The Pac-12 North race appears to be a formality with Oregon head and shoulders ahead of other programs. The Pac-12 South race appears to be the same with nobody expected to challenge USC. Everyone expects the Pac-12 regular season to come to a head on Nov. 3 when the Ducks visit USC. A rematch will be expected in the Pac-12 Championship Game, meaning the November game is likely to decide who will host the conference championship game.
But after three consecutive BCS bowl games, including a loss in the National Championship Game in 2010, this Oregon Ducks team appears poised to challenge for far more than a third Rose Bowl trip in four years.
Get $60 in FREE Member Picks
Chip Kelly’s biggest challenge may come from his own team. Oregon may battle complacency with many of its starters back from last season and with a relatively easy schedule before USC, and the team must avoid off-the-field issues that have surrounded the program in Kelly’s three years.
However, Kelly is as proven as a first-time coach as anyone in college football. In his three years as head coach at Oregon he has been to three BCS bowl games, including the 2010 BCS National Championship. The Ducks have finished in the Top 11 of the AP and Coaches Polls all three years, including No. 3 in 2010 and No. 4 last year, and overall Kelly is 34-6 and 25-2 in Pac-12 play.
Quarterback Darron Thomas and his 2,761 passing yards and 33 touchdowns is gone. Running back LaMichael James and his 1,805 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns is gone. Both declared early for the NFL Draft, James was taken in the second round, Thomas was never taken as many expected after his curious decision to leave Oregon.
But even without Thomas and James, Kelly has a cupboard full of offensive toys that would make most coaches envious. In place of Thomas he has plenty of talent, albeit plenty of questions, considering the multiple options at QB with sophomore Bryan Bennett, redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota and a pair of talented newcomers in Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie. The race appears to be between Bennett and Mariota. Bennett attempted 46 passes last year while playing in mop-up time or in place of an injured Thomas. Both fit the mold of previous Oregon quarterbacks like Dennis Dixon, Jeremiah Masoli and Thomas, but both also take things a step further with speed described by many as “breakaway.”
Whoever the quarterback is, he will be surrounded with an arsenal of weapons, including running back Kenjon Barner (939 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011) and receiver Josh Huff (31 receptions, 430 yards in 2011). Throw in sophomore do-everything playmaking weapon De'Anthony Thomas, who has been named to the Walter Camp and Maxwell Award watch lists, and you have a cocktail for another lethal Oregon offense. Thomas is listed at 20/1 on Bovada to win the Heisman Trophy.
The Oregon defense often gets overlooked because of their offensive dominance, but there is plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball for the Ducks. Last season the unit ranked 52nd in the NCAA, allowing 24.6 points per game. However, those numbers are often misleading because teams were often playing catch up against Oregon and the Oregon offense was not exactly interested in ball or time control. Seven starters return from that unit last year.
Where the Oregon defense did stand out last year was in getting to the quarterback. The defense ranked third in the nations in sacks, led by defensive end Dion Jordan’s team-best 7.5 sacks.
2012 Oregon Football Schedule Analysis
The entire first two months of Oregon’s season could be characterized as one giant trap game. Oregon will be heavily favored in nonconference home games against sacrificial lambs Arkansas State, Fresno State and Tennessee Tech to start the season.
Up next is the Pac-12 schedule which should only be slightly more challenging with home games against Arizona, Washington and Colorado and road trips to Washington State and Arizona State.
All that leads up to the November showdown at USC where anything sort of home-field advantage in the Pac 12 Championship Game being on the line would come as a giant surprise to many.
Oregon closes out its schedule in November with a home game against Stanford sandwiched between road games at California and rival Oregon State. A Pac-12 Championship Game is very likely to follow the regular-season ending Civil War against Oregon State.
2012 Oregon Ducks Futures Odds
Oregon is a clear National Championship contender. It’s odds to win the big prize are 12/1 on Bovada, the fifth best odds along with Florida State. Unfortunately for Oregon, one of the teams with better odds to win the title is in their conference, USC. So despite being 12/1 to win the National Championship, Oregon is a +215 underdog to win the conference.
The Oregon regular-season win total is set at 10.5 on 5Dimes. The odds of the Ducks making a fourth consecutive BCS bowl game are -190 with their odds of missing a BCS bowl game at +150.
Future college football point spreads on 5Dimes have Oregon as double-digit favorites vs. Washington (-20), vs. Stanford (-13.5) and at Oregon State (-16). Oregon is currently a 4.5-point underdog in its showdown with USC. The Ducks are heavy favorites to win the Pac 12 North at 2/5 ahead of Washington (5/1).
2012 Oregon Ducks Football Predictions
Odds of 12/1 are attractive when looking at Oregon to win the National Championship. However, with a weak schedule the Ducks would almost certainly have to beat USC twice just to play in the game, and with one of those games being on the road guaranteed and with a first-year starting quarterback, the 12/1 is all of a sudden nowhere near high enough odds to warrant a play.
Betting the “over” 10.5 wins would allow for only one loss, and with Oregon an underdog at USC, there is no value in hoping Oregon goes 11-0 against everyone else. The play here is Oregon “under,” which would assume a loss at USC and a first-year quarterback making a few mistakes in a road Pac-12 game, which seems much more likely than the Ducks running the table against everyone not named USC.
Doc’s Sports is offering $60 worth of member’s picks absolutely free – no obligation, no sales people – you don’t even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please for any handicapper and any sport on Doc’s Sports Advisory Board list of expert sports handicappers. Click here for more details and take advantage of this free $60 picks credit today.