2014 Oregon Ducks Odds to Win the Pac-12 with Picks & Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 8/4/2014
The Oregon Ducks went 11-2 last year. In their 11 wins, only their win over Oregon State (36-35) was by a margin of less than 21 points. Oregon absolutely demolished some very good teams last year. The problem was the Ducks once again slipped up against Stanford. That probably knocked them out of the title picture, but then Oregon was destroyed 42-16 as an 18-point favorite at Arizona in the second to last week of the regular season.
Still, it is clear that Mark Helfrich is keeping the tradition going for Oregon. Many worried that when Chip Kelly went to the NFL that the Ducks would never be the same. The Oregon offense didn't miss a beat last year. Oregon was second in the nation in total offense. Because the Ducks were so dominant, they were 8-5 against the spread in 2013.
Oregon returns eight starters on offense and five starters on defense this season. Oregon will get an early nonconference test from Michigan State in Week 2 of the season. The Ducks play in a much-improved Pac-12 Conference. The Ducks have an impressive team, but it won't be an easy road. Let's take a closer look at the 2014 Oregon Ducks.
2014 Oregon Offense
Oregon finished second in the nation in total offense last year. The Ducks averaged 565.1 yards per game. For the majority of the season, this Oregon offense was a well-oiled machine. When did the Oregon offense sputter a bit? When quarterback Marcus Mariota was playing with an injury. Mariota is right up there with Jameis Winston when it comes to the best quarterbacks in the nation. He threw 31 touchdowns and only four interceptions last year. Mariota completed 63.5 percent of his passes. He turned down a shot at the NFL, and he'll be one of the Heisman Trophy favorites this year. There aren't many players in the nation as important to their team as Marcus Mariota.
Mariota doesn't run as much as he used to, and he really doesn't need to. Oregon is loaded in the backfield. The Ducks have a dynamic duo in Byron Marshall and ccccc. These guys will share most of the carries, but freshman bulldozer Royce Freeman will get his chances on short-yardage plays as well. All three of these guys are elite runners. It helps that they are running behind what is one of the best offensive lines in the country. Five guys return that have starting experience on the offensive front. This unit only allowed 18 sacks a year ago, and they paved the way for a running game that averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
The one small hitch in the Oregon offense this year is the pass catchers. Keanan Lowe is the only real veteran for the team at wide receiver. Dwayne Stanford and Darren Carrington are youngsters who have a lot of talent, though. I think this group will be a bit better than most believe. It also helps having an elite quarterback.
Oregon's offense is going to be awesome again in 2014.
2014 Oregon Defense
The Oregon Ducks defense ranked 21st in the nation against the pass last year and 67th in the nation against the run. Oregon's defensive statistics are always a little bit difficult to gauge because this defense does end up spend a lot of time on the field thanks to the sheer speed at which the offense scores. Sometimes this defense is a little better than the statistics might lead you to believe.
The secondary was the strength of the defense last year, but there are far more questions there this year. Oregon was very fortunate that Ifo Ekpre-Olomu passed up the NFL and came back to school, or there would be in real trouble. Ekpre-Olomu is a superstar at the cornerback spot, but the rest of the secondary is a concern. The Ducks lost some extremely good safeties that saved this defense many times a year ago. It will be a little easier to move it through the air on the Ducks this year.
Oregon's defensive line is a mixed bag. On the defensive end spots they are in good shape with pass rushing specialists. The bigger question, though, is whether Oregon can find some run stuffers to plug the running lanes in the middle of the defensive front. Stanford, as well as some other opponents, have been able to use power running games to move the ball against Oregon.
The new strength of the defense is the linebackers. Derrick Malone led the team in tackles last year with 105. He is a senior who will serve as the emotional leader for the defense. The rest of the Oregon linebackers are experienced and very athletic as well.
I expect slightly worse passing defense numbers and slightly better rushing defense numbers for Oregon.
2014 Oregon Ducks Odds to Win Pac-12
Oregon is getting the respect they have rightfully earned from the oddsmakers. Bovada lists Oregon as the third favorite to win the FBS Championship in the 2014-15 season at 7/1. What about their odds in the Pac-12? The Ducks are listed at 11/10 to win the Pac-12 Conference overall. They are listed at 1/2 to win the Pac-12 North. The season win total for Oregon is set at 10.5 wins.
2014 Oregon Ducks Picks & Predictions
Oregon's schedule is tricky this season. The Ducks have a nonconference test against Michigan State (which I expect them to pass). They later have road games at UCLA, Utah, and Oregon State. It's hard to see them getting through all those games without a loss. The Ducks are going to have a terrific team again this year, but I think the oddsmakers might be just a tick too high on them based on their schedule. I expect them to win the Pac-12 North, but at 1/2 odds I see no value there.
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Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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