Another late night west coast special on tap on Week 2 of the college football schedule. The Oregon Ducks have simmered after the Marcus Mariota era in Eugene, and are trying to find their way back to being a top team. Vernon Adams, now in the NFL, was a serviceable replacement for Mariota after he went to the draft. However, there was something missing that wasn’t there, that was there, when Mariota was running the Oregon offense. As much of a turbulent time Chip Kelly has had in the NFL, he was one of the best college football coaches.
If things do not work out with the 49ers, there are going to be several schools lining up to hire him. And we all know, if Kelly fails in San Francisco, he will be looking back at college football for a job. Mark Helfrich has been the successor at Oregon, with his best year coming in 2014, where they went to the first ever college football playoff, but lost to Ohio State in Marcus Mariota’s last start at the college level.
In the 2015 season, we watched Oregon cough away the largest leads in bowl history. With a 31-0 lead at halftime, TCU came all the way back to force overtime and won the Alamo Bowl. It was a disappointing end to Vernon Adam’s collegiate career, where he exited the game because of a head injury. Everything went in the toilet after that. The Ducks first game back was against UC-Davis. Not exactly the stingiest of competitors, but the offense did look nice for Oregon in a 53-28 victory. It was a nice warmup for first-year starting Oregon quarterback, Dakota Prukop. Prukop follows in Vernon Adam’s footsteps, taking over the quarterback job at Oregon after playing FCS football in the Big Sky. Prukop and Adams even played in the same conference.
It’s hard to gauge a quarterback against a team like UC-Davis, but Prukop looked comfortable running the show, finishing with 271 yards and 3 touchdowns. Prukop has a world of talent surrounding him, most notably running back Royce Freeman. Freeman is a load, combining size, power, and speed. Look for him to be regarded highly as we go into the 2017 NFL Draft. Having one of the best running backs in all of the countries, definitely puts a guy like Pruokop at ease. Oregon will welcome Virginia this evening, who are coming off a punch-less effort against Richmond. Yes, I said Richmond.
Virginia Cavaliers vs. Oregon Ducks NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Oregon -23.5(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Virginia vs. Oregon Pick:
Bronco Mendenhall takes over as the head coach at Virginia, following a successful career with BYU. Mendenhall reignited the BYU football program, and won ten or more games in five of his ten years there. Mendenhall is in Virginia with the single goal of turning them around. The Cavaliers haven’t been a respectable program since 2011, where they finished 8-5. That is the last year they’ve finished with a record of at least .500. After another abysmal campaign in 2015, a 4-8 finish, Mike London was fired and Mendenhall was brought on board. Mendenhall has plenty of work to do, and it’s going to start with recruiting. London left the cupboard empty for Mendenhall to work with. Expect some growing pains in the first two seasons.
Virginia has had some low moments, but last week may have been the worst of all. The Cavaliers got embarrassed against the Richmond Spiders, a team that is known for its basketball program, and not football. They were downed by a score of 37-20, while allowing Richmond to throw for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns. They also ran for 194 yards! If a running back on Richmond can rush for 114 yards on 13 carries, it makes you wonder how badly Royce Freeman could punish Virginia.
The Cavaliers rushed for only 38 yards. I’m not sure how that’s possible against a team like Richmond, but they made it happen. The Cavaliers will without a doubt be at the bottom of the barrel in 2016. Even before the loss to Richmond, there were expectations of a lost season for Virginia. They have experience on the offensive line, but this is the third offensive line coach they’ve dealt with. The Cavaliers will put up more of an effort than they did against Richmond in Week 1, but they’re going to need that tenfold for them to hang around with Oregon. I handicapped this line around -27 or so. With that said, the Ducks look like a decent bet for Saturday night. Freeman is going to have himself a field day.
PICK: OREGON -23.5 (-110)