DSA Roundtable: Toughest game
Duck Sports Authority once again assembled its team of analysts A.J. Jacobson, Scott Reed and Dale Newton to ponder another big question in Duck sports. In this edition we take a look at the 2018 schedule and evaluate which game will be the toughest.
Jacobson: Oregon’s toughest game this year will not be one of its three non-league contests. After Texas A&M ducked out of a home-and-home, the Ducks are left with three games they should win by a combined 150 points on the docket.
My first instinct is to pick an away game as those are always a couple notches more difficult than at home. But at Cal, WSU, Arizona, Utah and OSU are not going to make the cut. The Ducks' four most difficult games may be at home: Stanford, Washington, UCLA and ASU.
Out of the above the Husky game on October 13th stands out the most. Washington is picked in the Top 10 pre-season and return most of last year’s very good football team. This will also be the game with the most fevered fanbase of the season, and emotions will be extreme on both sides. All the makings of a tough, important game.
Newton: Oregon's 2018 schedule starts with three servings of cupcake, then abruptly gets harder with a road game versus Cal and a home date with Stanford.
The toughest game has to be the rivalry game with Washington. The Dawgs are a potential playoff team with the conference's best coach. They return a senior, 4-year starter at quarterback in Jake Browning. Tailback in Myles Gaskin has rushed for 1300 yards or more in each of the last three seasons. Their defense returns 9 starters, including four all-conference-level players led by safety Taylor Rapp. It ranked sixth in the country last season.
Over the last two years, UW has beat Oregon home and away by a combined score of 108-24. They hate the Ducks, and they've proven themselves to be very good at channeling that enmity in a focused way. A bye week helps balance the scales. If Oregon wants to return to the national stage, this is where they earn it.
Reed: This is a difficult question because I do not necessarily believe that the best team Oregon faces will be its toughest game. While some do not want to hear it – Washington is still the best team in the Pac-12 North division. They have all the right pieces on offense including an experienced quarterback and a very good defense led by a very good coordinator.
But Oregon gets them at home after a bye week. For that reason I say that the toughest game on the schedule will be a typical trap game. On the road. Just before the bye. California.
The Golden Bears have a slew of ex-Ducks on staff; will be well disciplined and ready to play. I expect their defense to be better than it was last year (which was an improvement over prior seasons) and their offense will be disciplined. I still think a healthy Oregon beats a healthy Cal, but it just might be one of those low-scoring nail biters fans tend to dislike.