Friday, January 28, 2011
Best-worst case redo: Oregon
By ESPN.com staff
Every preseason we take a look at potential best-case and worst-case scenarios for every Pac-10 team. While these are often tongue-in-cheek, they nonetheless represent the top and bottom we see for each team.
So it might be worthwhile to revisit each.
Next up is Oregon, which finished12-1 and lost the national title game to Auburn.
Best case: 12-1 with Rose Bowl win over Boise State and split national championship with Ohio State.
What was right: The general feel here is pretty accurate. The Ducks did finish 12-1 and played well on both sides of the ball. LaMichael James was a Heisman Trophy finalist, if not the winner. The Ducks won a sloppy game at Arizona State and struggled mightily at California. The Ducks finished ranked in the top 3.
What was wrong: The biggest problem is quarterbacks Nate Costa and Darron Thomas both seeing regular action, which in hindsight was a bit of overthinking by your Pac-10 blogger. Oregon struggled but won at California and had little trouble with Oregon State, which we overrated here. Instead of winning the Rose Bowl and splitting the national title, Oregon lost the national title game and finished No. 3 in both polls.
Worse case: 8-5 with a loss to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl.
What was right: Very little. Obviously, we correctly picked eight of the Ducks' 12 wins, but that's about it.
What was wrong: Just about everything. The most glaring problem -- and that's true of both scenarios -- is the failure to foresee Thomas' consistency at QB. Also, Ducks fans surely will enjoy gloating at the mistaken measures of Washington quarterback Jake Locker's and Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers' seasons, particularly in contrast to the success of James. Finally, coach Chip Kelly signed a contract extension and Phil Knight is as obsessed and invested as ever.
Conclusion: Oregon's season fell just short of a best-case scenario that even exceeded our version. While the Ducks ultimately didn't end up splitting the title, it's hard to see a 12-1 finish and final No. 3 ranking as anything but pretty great.