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Is Oregon a Legit 2014 BCS Title Contender?


With the black cloud of possible sanctions and bowl bans hanging over the Oregon Ducks‘ football program heading into this season, many football fans, pundits and bettors wrote the 2013 Ducks off, assuming that their fate would resemble the Ohio State Buckeyes‘ from a couple of seasons ago, or the USC Trojans‘ from a few seasons prior. However, now that the cloud has been lifted and the Ducks are eligible to play in a bowl this season, Oregon is suddenly a 2014 title contender again in the eyes of many.

Last week, I left Oregon off my list of top 3 challengers to dethrone Alabama because I, like many, was waiting to hear how the NCAA’s investigation turned out. However, after the NCAA’s two-year probe into Oregon’s football recruiting program resulted in nothing more than a slap on the wrist, I am forced to expand that initial list to 4 contenders.

Now, before the ever-growing throng of SEC supporters gets up in arms, I’m not saying that Oregon would be a favorite to defeat the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide. Obviously, the Tide – with their wealth of returning talent and stellar incoming recruits – will be back, stacked and ready to roll again this fall. On the other hand, it would be criminal to say that the 2013 Ducks aren’t at least a solid contender, or a serious threat to a Bama threepeat, or a title run from any other major program for that matter.

Bovada.lv currently has the Ducks at 7/1 to win the 2014 National Championship, so obviously there are plenty of folks who realize an Oregon title run is not out of the realm of possibility.

Of course, there is still a large contingent of Oregon naysayers that will quickly point to the fact that the Ducks have only suffered defeat at the hands of superior SEC teams over the past few years. However, it’s hard to dispute the clear reality that Oregon has defied critics by improving each and every season since its 2010 Rose Bowl loss. And this year’s Ducks squad could be even stronger than the one that dismantled the highly-touted Kansas State Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl this past January.

Last year, more college football fans saw the Ducks play than ever before – as Oregon landed on several national broadcasts – and most of those fans would admit that the Ducks were pretty impressive. But Oregon did more than pass the “eye test,” as it put up some unfathomable offensive numbers, including 49.6 points per game and 315.2 rushing yards per game.

Sure, that was last year, but like Alabama, Oregon is returning most of its starters from a year ago, including almost all of its major offensive weapons. Dual-threat QB Marcus Mariota, perennial Heisman candidate De’Anthony Thomas, multi-dimensional tight end Colt Lyerla, and shutdown corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu represent just a small sample of the 15 position players coming back for the 2013 campaign. And remember, these guys were part of the 2012 team that finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country, behind only Alabama.

Of course, for the Ducks to seriously contend for the title, they’ll most likely have to go undefeated. As we’ve seen in years past, one loss for the Ducks means a Rose Bowl, or an at-large BCS bowl bid, whereas one loss for the Tide still grants them a shot at a championship. However, when looking at Oregon’s schedule, we see that there aren’t many potential roadblocks in the way of an unblemished record.

There’s always the possibility that Oregon could slip up against a conference foe – like it did last year – but can we consider the Ducks a legitimate threat to finish the season unbeaten and to contend for the 2014 BCS Championship? Yes we can.






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