The Oregon Ducks needed only three minutes to score the first touchdown of the 2015 National Championship Game and looked to be on their way toward redeeming the team's disappointing loss to Auburn back in 2010. History, however, had other ideas as the Ducks were never able to produce any meaningful offense and ended up on the wrong side of a blowout loss to the eventual-champion Ohio State Buckeyes.
Heading into the 2015 season Oregon is stacked with talent once again, even though the loss of star quarterback and the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, Marcus Mariota, still hangs over the team. Coach Mark Helfrich still has a roster full of skill players and a set of running backs that could end up being the best one-two punch in the entire nation. Let's take a closer look at Oregon's 2016 title odds with predictions and analysis. All odds come from Bovada.
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Oregon Ducks Odds to Win 2016 College Football National Championship Story Lines
The biggest offseason story line for Oregon has been who will replace Mariota at the quarterback position and if that addition be enough to carry the team toward another Pac-12 title and playoff appearance. The Oregon recruiting staff brought in former Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams to compete against Jeff Lockie for the starting job, but at the moment the job belongs to Lockie as Adams still has not officially joined the team.
The Ducks, however, may be ready to place much of the offensive load on a running back corps that was often overshadowed by the team's brilliant passing game last season. Helfrich has two potential NFL-level backs in Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner ready to help ease the transition from Mariota to Lockie (or whomever earns the starting job). Freeman is already getting a bit of preseason Heisman hype and could turn into one of the best runners in the country.
Oregon Ducks 2015 Schedule and Win Total Odds
Win Total: 9.5 Wins ("Over" -140)
Sept 5: E Washington
Sept 12: @ Michigan State
Sept 19: Georgia State
Sept 26: Utah
Oct 3: @ Colorado
Oct 10: Washington State
Oct 17: @ Washington
Oct 29: @ Arizona State
Nov 7: Cal
Nov 14: @ Stanford
Nov 21: USC
Nov 27: Oregon State
Oregon is once again considered the favorite to win the Pac-12 with or without an established quarterback behind center. The organization has talent up and down the roster and a system that produces wins no matter who steps into the lineup. The Pac-12 will be tough, however, with USC, Stanford and UCLA all believing they have a shot to win the conference and make a national title run.
Bovada currently has a win total for the Ducks at 9.5, with the "over" as a favorite at -140. A Pac-12 schedule is always difficult, but Oregon's toughest matchup-Nov. 21 against USC-will be played at home. The program is on a five-year run with two-loss-or-better seasons, and in order to lose on an over bet the Ducks would have to go 9-3 during the regular season, which feels highly unlikely. Oregon has enough talent to produce another 10-win-or-better year.
Oregon Ducks 2016 National Title Odds and Trends
Title Odds: +2000
2014 ATS Record: 10-5; 6-4 home
2014 Totals Record: 7-7-1; 5-5 home
The uncertain quarterback situation is the major reason Oregon has fallen out of the elite contender category for 2015. Many college football experts still believe the Duck are the team to beat in the Pac-12. If that assessment is correct then getting +2000 odds is a value wager. Even if the team is not as good as the Ohio States and Alabamas of the world, all the program really needs to do is make the playoffs and figure it out from there. We all know anything can happen in a single-elimination football game.
Oregon Ducks 2016 College Football National Championship Picks and Predictions
Will Oregon make the Four-Team Playoff: "Yes": +300; "No": -500
Oregon is a talented team in a tough conference, and making the playoffs is no certainty. Wagering on the 'no' at -500, however, does not feel like a smart bet. There is value on the 'yes' as a one-loss Pac-12 Champion will typically be favored by the playoff committee. If you believe in Oregon's running game and have confidence that the offensive system will produce another great quarterback, taking the 'yes' has value. The Ducks are also a sneaky national title contender, and getting +2000, before the team figures out its quarterback situation and gets on everyone's radar is a smart wager to make.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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