SportsRatings 2015 College Football Pre-season Top 128
|Oregon Ducks (Pac-12 #1; North #1)|
|AP #2 USA #2||Strength:#4 Success:#2 Overall:#2|
|Record: 13-2||Bowl: Beat Florida State 59-20 (Rose)
Lost to Ohio State 42-20 (Championship)
|Picks: AP #7 | USA #5 | Lindy's #4 | Athlon #8 | Steele #6 | ESPN #7
|Record: 10-2||Bowl odds: 99.9% Playoff odds: 26%|
Can Oregon repeat with a trip to the College Football Playoff? At our projected 10-2 it would be tough, but we favor the Ducks to win every game and if that happens, of course they're in.
6 ret. starters
|2014 Scoring Offense: #3 (raw) #4 (adjusted for opposition)|
|2015 Projected Scoring Offense: #4 (adjusted)
The Oregon offensive machine is ready to take off again; they just need a pilot. Vernon Adams should be a perfect fit.
|2014 Passing Rank: #10 (raw) #15 (adjusted)||2014 Sacks Allowed (raw): #68|
|2015 Projected Passing Rank: #12 (adjusted)
||2015 Sacks Allowed (proj.): #67|
Marcus Mariota (4,454 yards, 42 touchdowns, 4 interceptions) added the Heisman trophy to his list of accomplishments and his departure leaves an obvious hole. But Oregon has had this problem before and every time they come up with a solution. This time it's Vernon Adams, grad transfer from FCS school Eastern Washington. Adams lit up Oregon State for 411 yards (4 TDs) in a 49-46 upset in 2013 and Washington for 475 yards (7 TDs) in a 59-52 loss last year. So what can he do with the full power of the Oregon offense behind him? The Duck receiver corps is even more insane than usual with—eventually—the top four back: Byron Marshall (1,003 yards), Darren Carrington (704 yards), Devon Allen (684), and Dwayne Stanford (639). #5 Pharoah Brown (402) is probably out for the year, Allen will miss at least some early games and Carrington is probably suspended the first five, but they get Bralon Addison (890 yards in '13) back from injury. Adams threw for 3,483 yards last year (35 TDs, 8 int) and for 4,994 yards (55 TDs, 15 int) in 2013 and he's proven himself against the very defenses he'll be facing this year.
|Rushing||2014 Rushing Rank: #22 (raw) #15 (adjusted)||2015 Projected Rushing Rank: #9 (adj.)
Royce Freeman (1,365 yards, 18 TDs) is back for the Ducks, but they'll miss Marcus Mariota (770 yards) and Thomas Tyner (573) who is out with a shoulder injury. There are options; Byron Marshall (#4 w/392) could be used more here (he topped 1,000 yards in 2013). The offensive line returns just two starters, Cameron Hunt and Tyrell Crosby, but 2013 starter Tyler Johnstone is back and they get grad transfer Matt Hegarty who started last year at Notre Dame. Vernon Adams had 285 yards last year and 605 in '13 so while he's no Mariota he will contribute, and Oregon will have another strong (stronger?) ground game this year.
|2014 Adjusted Stats:||Rush Defense: #54 Pass Defense per-game: #66 Per-attempt: #32|
6 ret. starters
|'14 Scoring Defense: #33 (raw) #17 (adjusted)||'14 sacks: #36||'14 picks: #77|
|'15 Projected Scoring Defense: #26 (adjusted)
||'15 sacks: #25||'15 picks: #95|
Two of three starters return to Oregon's defensive line including DeForest Buckner (9 tackles for loss). At linebacker Tony Washington (6 sacks) is gone but Torrodney Prevot (5 sacks) is back along with Christian French (6.5 sacks), and the Duck pass rush should be great. The secondary is an issue with just one starter back. The Ducks lose top tackler Eric Dargan (7 interceptions) and Troy Hill (18 pass breakups), and that alone puts a dent in plans for future takeaways. The defense looks weaker, but shouldn't fall far out of the top 25 (in adjusted scoring figures).
- Kicking Game: Oregon used two placekickers last year and both are back (combined 18 of 21 field goals) along with punter Ian Wheeler (39.1 average).
- Return Game: Charles Nelson was Oregon's #7 receiver last year (327 yards) and had 17 tackles on kick coverage. He also returned punts (15.5 average, 2 touchdowns) and kickoffs (19.0 average) himself. He's back, and so is Bralon Addison who had 2 touchdown punt returns in 2013.
- Turnovers projection: Oregon's turnover situation is not pretty. First, they were very lucky on fumbles in 2014, both in avoiding them and in recoveries, and that's not likely to continue into 2015. In terms of interceptions, the defense had 13 and lose two players who combined for 24 pass breakups and 8 of those picks. And while Vernon Adams might match Mariota's production, he's almost certain to greatly exceed his 4 interceptions, probably by 10 or so. All of this adds up to probably the worse turnover penalty of any team compared to last year.
Coaching Hot Seat Ranking: #125 (COLD)
24 wins in two years will definitely avoid the hot seat, and Mark Helfrich has gone 11-2 and 13-2 in his two seasons here.
Recruiting 2015 Recruiting Rank: #19 2014 Recruiting Rank: #29
Oregon's recruiting has been picking up lately and this year is a very good one, a top 25 class that ranks right up there with a few other teams for 2nd place in the Pac-12. Defensive end Canton Kaumatule from Honolulu is the top recruit.
Oregon had an early peak with the 46-27 Michigan State win and it seemed to make them complacent; they struggled at Washington State 38-31 and then lost to Arizona 31-24. The loss seemed to make them serious, and it led to a resurgence: they plowed through their schedule, saving the best for last with a 51-13 beatdown of the same Arizona team that beat them earlier in the season and a dominant 59-20 win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Along the way they won by an average of 27 points including a key 45-16 drubbing of Stanford. But they ran out of gas against Ohio State, with early mistakes and poor protection of Marcus Mariota leading to a 42-20 loss to end their 13-2 season.
Last year's prediction: We ranked Oregon #4 and projected a 10-2 record by cumulative odds. Game-by-game we picked the Ducks to go 11-1, losing to UCLA (they beat the Bruins 42-30, one game after losing to Arizona).
Oregon 2015 schedule & forecast
Straight up: 12-0 Cume: 10-2 Undefeated: 10%
Oregon awkwardly starts the season against the very team Vernon Adams defected from to join the Ducks, Eastern Washington. Since they stole the team's best player it's not likely to be the same kind of shootout the other Pac-12 teams had with the Eagles. Then a week later Michigan State tries for revenge for last year's loss in Eugene, but we still favor the Ducks slightly. It will be one of the very best games of the early season for determining team rankings. Georgia State is another throwaway game before the Pac-12 starts.
The Pac-12 season looks easier than it usually does. Utah at home and Colorado on the road present roughly the same low-level threat, while Washington State and Washington probably represent even less. Arizona State will be a tough road test, and while California is good this year Oregon gets them at home. The two toughest challenges, as usual, will be Stanford and USC, but we favor the Ducks moderately in both cases. The Civil War shouldn't be a contest this year with Oregon State coming to Eugene.
Well, that doesn't sound too bad does it? While the cumulative projection is for 10 wins, Oregon is the first (i.e. lowest ranked) Power Five team we favor in all their games, and that puts them in prime position for another trip to the College Football Playoff. They'd likely face UCLA in Santa Clara for the honor. If they have a loss (or even two) it would depend a lot on who it was, of course, but three Playoff teams had a loss last year (including Oregon). We currently have their odds at 1 in 4 to make the Playoff but we may be adjusting those before the September 3 kickoff.
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SportsRatings 2015 College Football Pre-season Top 128