There is a new Head Coach for the Oregon Ducks in Eugene. Mario Cristobal was promoted from Offensive Coordinator after Willie Taggart left for Florida State. Before Oregon, Mario Cristobal served on Nick Saban’s staff at the University of Alabama.
Huge expectations have been set for Junior Quarterback Justin Herbert. Herbert will hope to remain healthy after missing a lot of games last year due to injury. The Ducks averaged 52 points per game when he was healthy.
Oregon has five other returning starters on Offense and seven on Defense. Having a lot of experience is invaluable with a new coach. Keeping the same Defensive Coordinator, Jim Leavitt, will help too.
Jim Leavitt was hired away from Colorado by Willie Taggart and was a huge upgrade over previous Defensive Coordinator Brady Hoke. He will have a Defensive Secondary featuring returning starting Cornerbacks Thomas Graham Jr. and Deommodore Lenoir. Both of these players are Sophomores and will be the anchor of the Defense.
Oregon has the fourth highest win total (7.5, Over -110 / -110, BetDSI) in the Pac 12. The Ducks are listed at long shots for significant postseason success with Future bets for Conference champions at +800 and National Champions +11000 on 5Dimes.
|9/15||San Jose State||-37|
|10/18 (Th)||@ Washington State||-7.5|
|11/23 (F)||@ Oregon State||-20.5|
The Oregon Ducks have a legitimate shot at finishing top ten in the nation in total Offensive yards. This unit will run the typical spread Oregon offense with speed at every position. However, there will be more plays with the Quarterback under center than in previous years.
Five of the six leaders in Receiving Yards are returning. There is a lot of continuity in the passing attack with a returning Quarterback, most of the Wide Receivers returning and the Offensive Coordinator now being the Head Coach.
Running Back is a big question mark for this team. Recently drafted Royce Freeman (Running Back) was a Heisman Contender in almost every season of his NCAAF career. It will be hard to replace his efficiency. However, there will be plenty of time to determine the pecking order for carries in the first three games against lesser opponents.
The Offensive Line features two of the best lineman in the nation with Center Jake Hanson and Tackle Calvin Thurockmorton. They will be joined by Alabama Grad Transfer Dallas Warmack who played in 16 games in three years.
The Defense may be one of the best that Oregon has had in a long time. Troy Dye, Lamar Winston, and Justin Hollins are all returning with significant playing time at Linebacker. The trio of veterans will pair with one of the best Cornerback duos in the country. There is also experience at the Safety position.
The Defensive Line is the biggest concern for the Oregon Ducks. A lot of last year’s contributors graduated and injuries at this position could create a major problem in the Run Defense.
The schedule is the easiest in the Pac 12. The first three games are against three non Power Five schools who all finished below .500 last year. Playing both Washington and Stanford at home presents an opportunity for an upset.
Weeks 7 through 11 are tough with three of them being on the road. All three road games come against teams projected to win more than 6 games so they are not guaranteed wins.
The hire of Head Coach Cristobal is a good pairing with Jim Leavitt at Defensive Coordinator. Leavitt did an excellent job of quickly turning around the Ducks Defense last year.
My Pick: Over 7.5 (-110, BetDSI), Pac 12 Division (+800, 5Dimes)
To me, the Oregon Ducks are neck and neck with USC and Stanford for second best team in the Pac 12. All three of these teams will likely win eight games or more, but USC (9 wins) and Stanford (8.5 wins) have the higher win totals.
Oregon (7.5 wins) has the most room for error during the season. With possibly the best NFL prospect at Quarterback in College Football, the Ducks are in a good position to capitalize on an easy schedule. The Ducks should be favored by 14 or more in the first three games.
The Stanford and Washington games are at home and USC is not scheduled. Oregon only needs to win five out of the nine Pac 12 games on the schedule, assuming they win three very easy out of conference games.
The amount of returning experience on both sides of the ball gives this team a lot of balance. There are not many holes in the roster, and the Coaching Staff should put the players in the right spots.
The Oregon odds of +800 for Division Champions are high enough to provide some value. I predict Washington will run away with the Pac 12, but if you do not want to pay a premium and take them at +132, the Ducks are an interesting play.
-END OF 2018 PREVIEW-
The Oregon Ducks are turning to Willie Taggart to turn things around after the team went 4-8 under head coach Mark Helfrich last season. It was the worst finish for Oregon since 1991. The Ducks should be much better this season but whether they have enough to challenge Washington and Stanford in the Pac-12 North is questionable. Oddsmakers think the Ducks are going to be in the mix, as they set the win total for Oregon at eight at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Let’s look at the 2017 Oregon Ducks and see if they can get to nine wins.
2017 Oregon Ducks Win Total
8 under -120
2017 Oregon Ducks Schedule
Sept. 2: vs. Southern Utah
Sept. 9: vs. Nebraska
Sept. 16: at Wyoming
Sept. 23: at Arizona State
Sept. 30: vs. California
Oct. 7: vs. Washington State
Oct. 14: at Stanford
Oct. 21: at UCLA
Oct. 28: vs. Utah
Nov. 4: at Washington
Nov. 11: BYE
Nov. 18: vs. Arizona
Nov. 24: vs. Oregon State (Friday)
The Ducks are going to score plenty of points in 2017, as they return quarterback Justin Herbert who looked really good as a true freshman last year. He will get a lot of help in the backfield from Royce Freeman and Tony Brooks-James. Freeman averaged 5.6 yards per carry last season and had nine touchdowns. The Ducks have Darren Carrington II and Charles Nelson at receiver but they will miss Devon Allen who decided to focus on track.
Herbert completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,936 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions last season. The Ducks better hope that Hebert stays healthy, as their only option behind him is true freshman Braxton Burmeister.
The Oregon defense is rarely any good and it won’t be that good in 2017 but there are at least some signs of hope. The team did get a major boost when Scott Pagano decided to leave Clemson and join the Ducks. The Ducks do have Troy Dye returning at linebacker but they don’t have many other impact players. They had three freshmen on the spring depth chart in cornerback Thomas Graham, nose tackle Jordon Scott and strong safety Brady Breeze.
Oregon’s defense was 126th in the country, as they allowed 41.4 points per game last season. The Ducks simply couldn’t stop the run, as they allowed 247 rushing yards per game. Oregon is hoping that new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt can do what he did at Colorado. The Buffaloes were 116th in points allowed before hiring Leavitt, but they were 18th in scoring defense last year.
The Ducks feature a good kicker in Aidan Schneider who was all-conference last season. They will need a new punter, as Ian Wheeler is not returning.
There are major question marks surrounding Taggart even before he has coached his first game at Oregon. Strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde was suspended for a month, co-offensive coordinator David Reaves was fired and receivers coach Jimmy Dougherty left for UCLA. Many people think Taggart is lucky to still have his job. Even though this is his first year with the Ducks he may not have a long leash in Eugene. One thing that has gone well for Taggart is recruiting and history has shown that if you win, people forget about everything else.
2017 Oregon Ducks Win Total Prediction
The Ducks were good last year on offense, as they averaged 35.4 points per game but they were not great and when the defense is rotten, the offense has to be great. The offense figures to be very explosive again this year and the defense should be a little better.
The question is whether or not the Ducks can win nine games and go over their win total. The early part of the schedule is favorable, as the Ducks should win games against Southern Utah, Wyoming and California. They could also win games against Nebraska, Arizona State and Washington State. I don’t see them winning at Stanford or at UCLA and I think the Utah game will be tough. I also think they will lose at Washington. They should win their final two against Arizona and Oregon State.
I think the best case scenario for Oregon is a 9-3 season, which means they have no margin for error to win nine games and go over the total. If things don’t go well then the Ducks could struggle just to go 7-5. I think the oddsmakers have this total pegged right but if I had to choose, I would go under the total of 8 for the 2017 Oregon Ducks.