2013-14 Oregon Ducks Predictions and College Football Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/14/2013
It has been a rocky offseason for the Ducks. After seeing their regular season end in a far-from-ideal way, the team saw head coach Chip Kelly flirt with the NFL repeatedly before finally being unable to resist, then they found themselves hit with NCAA violations for shady recruiting practices. That’s a lot of distraction and bad karma an eternal contender needs to overcome here.
Despite the loss of Kelly, the coaching situation isn’t nearly the concern that it could have been. The team acted swiftly to elevate Mark Helfrich to the head job, and Kelly didn’t significantly raid the staff to fill out his new staff in Philadelphia. The recruiting class largely stayed in place as a result, and the team didn’t lose significant established talent after the change. It’s essentially all systems go with a new coach who is very familiar and comfortable with the existing system. As significantly, the change may actually be a better thing in the short term than keeping Kelly would have been. Kelly was given a show-cause penalty by the NCAA, so if he was still coaching the team the punishment would have been significant and distracting. At least this way the team got to make the transition early and on their own terms.
On the field things are more than promising for the team. Offensively, they have not one but two strong Heisman contenders to choose from. QB Marcus Mariota and RB De’Anthony Thomas are both scary good, explosive players. Thomas finally gets the chance to be the primary ball carrier, and that should be something to see. Behind a strong offensive line, it seems more than likely that this offense will again be tough to stop.
On defense there are mostly bright lights. They return six of their top seven defensive linemen and all of their secondary. They lost Dion Jordan, though, and there has been some real upheaval at linebacker. They have recruited extremely well of late, though, and there is no reason to believe that they can’t plug in new talent and find combinations that can work for them. They might have to show some creativity and flexibility at inside linebacker in particular, but with a couple of reasonably easy games to start the year they have time to grow into themselves, and they certainly aren’t without options.
Oregon Schedule Analysis
The Ducks are facing plenty of distractions this year thanks to coaching changes and violations. Luckily for them, the first half of their season is laughably easy so they can ease into their new realities. In fact, the whole schedule is certainly among the least challenging of the major contenders, with only a few spots for concern.
The first five games are against Nicholls State, Virginia, Tennessee, Cal and Colorado. That’s five wins. Next they play at Washington and against Washington State. Those games should both be wins as well. They also have a game against Utah in Week 10 that will be simple for the Ducks barring a disaster. That leaves just four challenging games. They host UCLA on October 26 then play at Stanford next. Later, they play at Arizona then host Oregon State. The Ducks will be favored in at least three, but each game has the potential to derail this team if they aren’t up for the challenge.
2013-14 Oregon Betting Odds and Trends
The change in coaches is not scaring off bettors — the Ducks are the third choice at +750 to win the National Championship. They are the +110 favorite to win the very deep Pac-12 North division and the +200 favorite to win the conference. The team is well represented in Heisman futures betting, with QB Marcus Mariota and RB De’Anthony Thomas both at +1200. (All odds are from BetOnline) The Ducks were better at winning games than covering spreads despite their explosive offense last year — they were just 7-5 ATS. They went “over” the total seven times in 11 tries.
2013-14 Oregon Ducks Predictions and College Football Picks
Despite the change on top, I actually like this team more than I did last year. They have the talent and the experience, and they don’t have the expanding ego of Chip Kelly to deal with. They have a very friendly front half of the season to get ready for the challenges ahead and have enviable talent across the field. This is the team to beat in the Pac-12, and I don’t think there is a team that can beat them on their schedule — unless they do what they did last year and beat themselves, though that is less of a concern under Helfrich than it was under Kelly.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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