Countdown to 2014 Season – No. 1 – Oregon

Note … This is the final installment in a series of previews for the 2014 season, ranking CU’s opponents from the easiest to most difficult.

Previously posted … No. 12 Massachusetts; No. 11 Hawai’i; No. 10 California; No. 9 Colorado State; No. 8 Utah; No. 7 Oregon StateNo. 6 Arizona; No. 5 Washington; No. 4 Arizona State; No. 3 USC; and No. 2 UCLA.


It seems almost absurd.

At, you can compare one team’s historic success against another. There are 12 categories listed, from all-time wins to conference championships to bowl games to NFL draft picks.

When you compare Colorado and Oregon, you get a surprising result.

Based upon how the two teams have fared since meeting in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl as two teams jilted in favor of Nebraska by the BCS computers, the teams have gone in different directions. Oregon has become a top ten mainstay, while Colorado is mired in the worst stretch in school history.

So for those who are not historically savvy, it may come as a shock that in the 12 statistical categories Winsipedia tracks, Oregon leads Colorado in exactly … one.

Check it out here.

True enough, the only statistical category in which Oregon has a lead over Colorado is “Weeks at AP No. 1”, and even that is close. Oregon is ranked 23rd all-time, with eight weeks at No. 1, while Colorado is 24th all-time, with seven weeks.

That’s it.

In every other category measured, the Buffs hold the edge.

Some examples:

– All-time wins: Colorado 23rd (679); Oregon 40th (614)

– Conference championships: Colorado 10th (26); Oregon 59th (10)

– Consensus All-Americans: Colorado 18th (31); Oregon 61st (5)

– And, of course, Colorado has a national championship and a Heisman trophy winner … Oregon has neither.

None of the above will help the Buffs when they travel to Eugene on November 22nd, but it’s nice to know that history is on Colorado’s side.

2013 Season

In his first season as head coach, former CU assistant Mark Helfrich had nowhere to go but down.

Expectations for the Ducks were a mile high. Oregon was ranked No. 3 to start the season, and cruised through the month of September with ease. Oregon scored 55 points or more against Nicholls State, Virginia, Tennessee and Cal, while giving up no more than 16 points in any contest.

So it was a small moral victory for the Buffs when Colorado took a 10-8 lead five minutes in, with Paul Richardson hitting D.D. Goodson for a 75-yard touchdown and a few moments of joy for the 45,944 on hand. By the end of the first quarter, though, it was 29-10, and the Buffs became just another statistic, falling 57-16.

Routs of No. 16 Washington (45-24), Washington State (62-38), and No. 12 UCLA (42-14) led to the Pac-12 Game-of-the-Year, a road trip to Palo Alto to face No. 6 Stanford.

The Ducks lost to the Cardinal, 26-20, to drop into the “hopeful” category in the national championship race. A win over Utah, though, was followed by an inexplicable rout by Arizona, 42-16.

Oregon escaped Oregon State at home in the Civil War, 36-35, earning an invitation to the Alamo Bowl to face Texas. In the final game of the Mack Brown era at Texas, the Longhorns played inspired for awhile, but did not have the horses to stay with the Ducks. A 30-7 Oregon victory gave Mark Helfrich an 11-2 record in his first season in Eugene, and a No. 9 final ranking.


If Marcus Mariota had opted for the NFL last January, Oregon would still have been a highly ranked team.

With Mariota back for his junior season, Oregon is ranked No. 3 in the USA Today/coaches’ preseason poll.

Oregon was No. 2 in the nation in total offense last season (565.0 yards per game) and 4th in scoring (45.4 points per game), and there is little reason to believe that the Ducks won’t post similar numbers this fall.

Mariota threw for 3,665 yards, 31 touchdowns and only four interceptions, but those numbers would have been even better had he not torn an MCL against UCLA. Mariota will have plenty of protection, as all five starters return along the offensive line.

And there will be plenty of arrows in Mariota’s quiver.

Bryon Marshall (1,038 yards, 14 touchdowns) and Thomas Tyner (711 yards, nine touchdowns) both return to carry the ball. And while two top receivers have left for the NFL, there is no shortage of talent at wideout, with the leading returning receiver being Braton Addison, who had 61 receptions for 890 yards and seven touchdowns last season.


When you are playing with an offense that scores 45 points per game, there is plenty of room for error with the defense.

Oregon was good, but not great (37th nationally in total defense) last season, but much of the yardage gained by the opposition was due to two factors: 1) the Oregon offense scored so quickly, the Oregon defense was on the field for much of the game; and 2) the Oregon defense often played with a sizable lead, allowing the defenders to give up yardage (but not points. The Ducks were 13th in the nation in scoring defense).

Still, there are some issues for the Oregon defense for 2014.

The Ducks return only five starters on defense, and will be playing with a new defensive coordinator, Don Pellum. Oregon would have had to replace its entire secondary had cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu hadn’t opted to return to Eugene for his senior season.

The other question for Oregon is whether it can beef up its defensive line, which has been pushed around by strong offensive lines (read: Stanford). “(Getting bigger and stronger) is a big priority,” said defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. “You look at us, and we really don’t pass the eyeball test. It’s a really big emphasis”.


Not that Oregon – already in the top four nationally – needs to bolster its resume in order to make the first round of college football playoffs, but the Ducks have a schedule tailor-made for a title run.

After a scrimmage against South Dakota, the Ducks will take on No. 8 preseason at home on September 6th. If the Ducks can get past the Spartans, then the Ducks get a relatively easy three-game stretch – Wyoming; at Washington State; Arizona – before big game No. 2 of the season.

On October 11th, Oregon travels to Los Angeles to take on No. 7 UCLA in what could be a preview of the Pac-12 title game.

Next, a relatively easier pair of games against Washington (ten straight wins in the series) and Cal (in the 49ers new stadium) lead up to the latest Pac-12 Game-of-the-Year against No. 11 Stanford. The game will be played in Eugene, and will play a large role in the Pac-12 North – and national – standings.

After the Stanford game, Oregon has only one more home game, coming against Colorado on November 22nd, coming after a game against Utah and – wait for it – a bye week. While Oregon coaches won’t admit it, they might very well be spending their bye week prepping for their road finale against Oregon State … and perhaps the Pac-12 title game.


It’s difficult to find a position battle in which a Colorado player or unit would be favored against their Oregon counterpart.

Colorado, like Oregon, will have an extra week to prepare for the game.

Colorado, unlike Oregon, will need it.

Even if Oregon is down after losing to Michigan State and/or UCLA and/or Stanford … and even if the Ducks are disinterested as they look forward to their game against Oregon State and/or their Pac-12 title game opponent … and even if the late November weather keeps thousands of Duck fans in their dry homes …

… there is still no logical reason to believe Colorado can beat Oregon on the road on November 22nd.

Buff fans will have to wait a few more years for their team … and history … to bring the two programs back together.




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