Noise and distractions will swirl, but the Ducks have been pretty good at ignoring them. After the new stories and Heisman hype and the BCS tempest, they have a football game to play Saturday, against a 5-1 opponent ranked 12th in the country. Three matchups stand out as particularly critical:
The Oregon defensive line against the UCLA offensive line
The Bruins are starting three true freshmen. All three are talented and were highly recruited. Alex Redmond was at one time a Duck verbal commit before opting for Jim Mora's squad. Scott Quessenberry is making his first start after appearing in just one game. Quarterback Brett Hundley is sturdy at 6-3, 222, a decent and sometimes dangerous runner who averages 4 yards a carry. He has escapability but has thrown 6 interceptions and been sacked 13 times this year.
Pocket watch: if Brett Hundley has this much time to throw Saturday, the Oregon defense is doing something wrong.
Oregon has a serious edge in experience on the front when UCLA has the ball, so it's expected that the UCLANs will employ a lot of the strategy Washington State employed last week, getting the ball out quickly on screens, short passes and underneath routes. Leading rusher Jordan James missed the Stanford game after injury his ankle at Utah, and Hundley struggled against The Cardinal without him.
The Ducks should have the opportunity to tee off if they can sustain a pass rush and pressure Hundley. They have to maintain containment and stay under control, because he can break tackles.
Oregon defensive backs versus the UCLA receivers
The Bruins are deep and fast at receiver, and the Duck back seven has to do a better job than they did against the Cougars. Shaquelle Evans, 6-1, 204, leads the group with 24 catches for 319 yards and 5 tds. Devin Fuller has 27 receptions for an even 300 yards, 2 scores. Freshman Thomas Duarte is dangerous off the bench at 6-3, 221; he's caught just 9 balls so far this year but he was a Parade All-American, a tough 1-on-1 matchup in the slot with size and 4.55 speed.
Oregon offensive line versus the UCLA defensive line
The Bruins are big up front, SEC big: Ellis McCarthy, defensive tackle, 6-4, 330. Eddie Vanderdoes, defensive end, 6-4, 305. Cassius Marsh on the other side is listed at 6-4, 260 but plays much bigger. They are backed by one of the best linebacker groups in the conference in Anthony Barr, Miles Jack and Eric Kendricks, all of whom are agile, physical and appropriately mean. Oregon has to get a push up front; UCLA has been solid against the run most of the year but allowed 171 yards to Tyler Gaffney and the Stanford power running game last week.
I'm a Serious Bruin Fan, But I am Objective! Ducks are AWESOME!! I don't see the Bruins staying with them very Long if at all. If the Bruins make no mistakes and are sharp like the one game they were against Nebraska, I might see them staying with the mighty Ducks for a quarter may two.......Ducks are do deep and talented and experienced. I don't see this being that much of a contest unless suddenly UCLA grows up in a Hurry over night. I Like What Mora has Has done with the program, But Ucla is not far enough along to hang with the ducks unless they play the perfect game......Hats of to you Ducks and Fans you guys are Crazy Good!!!
To all you duck Fans out there!!! I'm a serious Ucla Bruin!!! I am Objective though,....I don't see the Bruins winning at all. The Ducks are Crazy Good!!! It would take a Monumental Break down by the Ducks for the bruins to even get within a touchdown....Or Suddenly the Ucla Bruins Mature and Play like they never have before.....I would like to see My Bruins win....Its not going to happen!!! The Bruins might Play tough and make it close for 1 quarter , 2 at the most ....But I'm Just not seeing it. Congrats Oregon Fans You Guys are Truly CRAZY GOOD!!!
Lets see what happens. Las Vegas has the Ducks by 23 points. Seems high but these guys are the pro's.
Woah, Dale. UCLA is playing more like Alabama than any team in the country. Tough to make that connection at face value, but your analysis is tough to argue with. So basically, if Oregon wins, they basically will have beaten Alabama. Let's see what Saban has to say then!
@DWBruins DW, welcome and thanks for visiting. Bruins have a lot of talent, and Jim Mora has instilled a toughness that wasn't there under Dorrell and Neuhiesel. Biggest issue in this game is that they are really banged up. Even if Oregon does win, the two teams might meet up again in December. Good luck and enjoy the game.
@SonomaDuck I think that number reflects the injuries UCLA has. They are a matchup for anybody otherwise.
i re-read the article to see what the heck you were talking about….no mention of Alabama in the article, so not sure what you mean…figure you are just trying to stir the pot.
keep to the facts and the story.
this game will be won at the line of scrimmage. UCLA with 3 freshman, don’t care how good they are, experience counts and they don’t have it. Ducks up on UCLA early forcing them to throw the ball, O-line can’t hold back Washington, Lokombo, Armstead and Buckner.
Ducks win big, cover the spread
next up…The Mighty Furd, hope they beat the beavs, but that game might be close
@DuckDucks DD I can't remember comparing UCLA to Alabama. I don't think they have the defense Alabama has, or skill players with the big-play ability of T.J. Yeldon and Amare Cooper. The Tide is physical and disciplined, and the Bruins are one of the most penalized teams in the country. Even so, they are a good football team, and as Duckbill says below, Oregon's truest test so far.
The Ducks should win if they execute, but they'll have to get blocks on Barr and that big front line.
@Duckbill I have no illusions of a massive blowout or a walk in the park. I do believe, however, that if the Ducks do indeed blow them out, it will be the bruins who will be trashed as overrated, not the Ducks credited for doing something impressive against a pretty darned good football team.
@Duckbill UCLA always has plenty of athletes, and Mora has infused the Bruins with physical toughness they lacked in the Neuheisel/Dorrell years. Those linebackers in particular are a load.
@DanO NE PDX @DuckDucks Reading back, I think I may have been on the wrong track in my response to DD. I think HE's suggesting that UCLA is in the Alabama mode, and I can see how he could make that comparison in that both are physical teams with pro influences. Alabama is on another tier than most teams in the country. The Ducks will have to play a good game today to beat the Bruins, and a better game still to beat The Tide.
They have a mobile, accurate QB. They had, up until a few weeks ago, a decent rushing attack and a solid offensive line. Injuries have plagued the bruins but there is still a lot of heart in them, and they are playing for dominance in the south. It will not be easy.
The matchups are, as with most Duck games this season, in the favor of Oregon. The pass defense is crazy good, bending but not breaking, giving up short yardage while sealing the deal with an impressive number of breakups, defenses, and interceptions. Hundley will have a hard day.
The D-line should have its way on Saturday. If there are not four sacks, ten hurries, and three batted passes, it will be a failure of Oregon's front seven to get the job done against a weakened, although still potent, UCkLA O-line. It is quite possible that they will score more against Oregon than they did against Furd, but they should lose by 20. Which brings me to...
Oregon should dominate on offense. UCkLA makes too many mistakes on defense that lead to penalties. The bruins are 125th of 126 teams in penalty yardage allowed per game, and a lot of those penalties come from pass interference. Yes, it is better to give up 15 yards and a first down instead of a touchdown, but giving Oregon 15 yards and a first down is like giving a millionaire a winning lottery ticket...
The Bruins rank near the bottom on stopping the opponent on 4th down, a down that Oregon has either missed or scored a touchdown on this season. That doesn't bode well.
There is some debate whether UCkLA lost to Stanford because Furd was a better team, or because the bruins were depleted on offense, scoring a meager 10 points. My money is on the bruins being depleted. I am in the minority, but I do not believe Furd's defense is as good as advertised. We shall see next week, but we'll learn a little bit more this week when we face UCkLA.
Call me a sappy fan, but I don't think either game is going to be the challenge other people believe they will be.
I just want to know one thing: If Oregon blows out both teams, will it be because Oregon is really that good, or will it be because both teams were over-rated and undeserving of their rankings? Getting Oregonized has *always* tended to mean (in the mainstream media anyway) that the other team wasn't really that good. Until Oregon destroys an SEC team, that will always be the case.
People in Oregon will believe the Ducks have earned the respect and a #2 ranking in the BCS, but the people on the east coast will just say that they're getting screwed by the computers. Such is life in the age of the BCS...