BY JEREMY HOECK
EUGENE, Ore. – I overheard someone in Eugene say on Thursday, “We could probably score 100 (points) if we wanted to.”
The idea, obviously, is that the University of Oregon could do just about anything it wanted to against the University of South Dakota for Saturday night’s season-opening college football game.
The question is: Will the Ducks do that? Will they need to?
Let’s be honest, the game is going to get out of hand, and quickly. Oregon is simply too fast, too talented, too deep, too experienced, too everything. They’re among the elites of college football. They’re expected to pound FCS opponents – that’s the whole reason they schedule these games.
One website I came across has the Ducks favored by 51 points, and that’s probably giving USD a little credit.
The truth is, Oregon will have a hard time NOT scoring. Their offense – if you’ve watched any of the Ducks’ games in recent seasons – is based on the idea that you never stop. In last season’s 66-3 win over FCS Nicholls State, Oregon had scoring drives that averaged six plays and 67 yards. And in all, the Ducks rolled up 772 yards of total offense (and QB Marcus Mariota sat out the entire fourth quarter when the lead was 45-3).
And it’ll be much the same case Saturday.
Now, you could make an argument that USD’s offense will eventually muster more than a field goal, especially late when Oregon’s second and third-team guys take the field. By that by point, the game will be all but decided.
There was a great line I heard this week from USD offensive lineman Sam McLeran, who takes over the center position this season. He said something like (and I’m paraphrasing), “We’re not sitting here thinking if we do this right, or if we do that right, we’ll have a chance.” That’s the realistic way to look at things, right?
Every coach of every team in any sport uses the ‘We expect to win’ line with their team, and I understand it. But at the same time, there’s the realistic part of you that thinks, ‘Oh, well, let’s just go out there and represent our program well.’ This isn’t Minnesota. This isn’t Iowa State. This is Oregon; the highest of high level college football.
You take the field, you find a way to keep from losing guys to injury, you accept the paycheck and you fly home. That’s the way it is in this kind of a situation.
Anything positive you can take away from a game like Saturday, you jump at it. If there’s one positive USD can leave Eugene with, it’s this: No other team this season will be as fast or as talented. And so, there are no surprises. You’ve seen the best.