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Better Know a 2017 Opponent: Oregon

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Time to reintroduce ourselves with an old foe.

NCAA Football: Oregon Spring Practice Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Hello Oregon!

We haven’t seen each other for a few years, so we may need to reintroduce ourselves. I think we should start by both agreeing that last year didn’t happen. I think that will work out for both of our fanbase’s collective consciousnesses.

Also what is it like to want to succeed in football? Just curious.

LAST YEAR

Well, the good news is Oregon wasn’t better than us last year! They also weren’t worse than us last year; the Ducks also managed to finish 4-8. Except unlike UCLA (and Notre Dame, who also went 4-8 which I’m sure people remember), Oregon did something that they hadn’t done since the 1970s - they fired a head coach. We’ll get to the new guy in a second, but for now let’s take a moment of silence to remember Mark Helfrich.

...

Ok, but seriously, Oregon fired a head coach that was in the national championship game in 2014. I guess years of success had led to something called standards at Oregon where they’d like you to win more than you lose. At UCLA, if that happens they make you give back a year of your extension, if they do anything at all. Pretty sure that’s on the Pyramid of Success somewhere.

Anyway, the magnitude of Oregon’s collapse is still something to be admired. At least when UCLA fell, it was a gradual fall that you could see coming (since you can only miss on QB recruiting so many times until it bites you). Oregon went from a National Championship game, to blowing the Alamo Bowl to end up 9-4, to going 4-8. It’s fascinating. Also you can totally blame Brady Hoke for the collapse since he’s a proven expert at that.

Win the Day, and all that.

THE FANS

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Oregon fans at a football game, thanks to the wonders of Pac 12 scheduling. So part of this is going to be based on basketball, a sport Oregon fans just realized existed a few years ago. Our most recent meeting with Oregon fans in Eugene involved them rushing the court multiple times before the game ended, so we might be dealing with an Arizona situation here.

Though the fact that Arizona’s field-rush snafu came against Oregon should probably give us pause.

Of course, we should probably talk about the biggest fan of Oregon athletics: one Phillip K. Knight. The founder of Nike has helped turn Oregon from an also-ran into a nouveau rich school that suddenly isn’t used to failure. Reports are that Knight had a headset installed into his personal suite so that he could listen to the plays being called, though rumors exist that he even called a few plays. I’m willing to believe the rumors, if only because they help explain 4-8.

And, since this is the section I normally bring this up, Oregon’s Mascot Who is Definitely Named Puddles Even Though Officially That is not the Case is pretty good, and was easily the best Gameday picker, non-Uncle Verne Division.

THE COACHES

I don’t know a thing about Willie Taggert except he was at South Florida last year. And also he decided to institute a “new culture” at Oregon that immediately led to three players being hospitalized during January workouts. So things seem to be going great!

Jim Leavitt is also here now, after a stint turning Colorado into a wrecking ball on defense. I don’t think Leavitt is good enough to turn that Oregon unit around that fast, though....

THE PLAYERS

Oregon actually has a returning starter at quarterback who isn’t a JuCo transfer, so that’s new and exciting!

Royce Freeman is still here, and he’s still very good, which is great for Oregon because there isn’t much behind him!

The defense.......well the offense is probably still going to be pretty good!

FEARLESS PREDICTION

UCLA is coming off what should be an easy win over Arizona, should be feeling themselves, and will do what UCLA football teams always manage to do: shoot themselves in the foot.

But also this Oregon team is lacking talent so UCLA probably wins anyway. The next game is definitely the one where they embarrass themselves.