Back Oregon to Cover First Half at Wyoming

Oregon Ducks

Rainman M.

Friday, September 15, 2017 7:49 PM GMT

Friday, Sep. 15, 2017 7:49 PM GMT

Oregon (2-0) faces its first true road test this season at Wyoming (1-1) this Saturday at 7:00 PM ET. The Ducks are favored by two touchdowns. The game total has plummeted from 65 to 59.5.

Oregon Ducks vs Wyoming Cowboys

Wyoming enjoyed a major turnaround, progressing from a 2-10 record in 2015 to 8-6 in 2016. Wyoming improved because of its solid offensive production, consisting of quarterback Josh Allen, running back Brian Hill and a talented crew of receivers. Hill, Wyoming's all-time leading rusher, departed, as did his backup and Allen's top three pass catchers. Wyoming will suffer from a plummet in the talent of Allen's supporting cast.

Wyoming would be just fine if Allen deserved the massive hype that surrounded him last season. While he has racked up impressive numbers against sub-par Mountain West competition, he is largely unproven against schools from the larger conferences. 

In week 1, Allen struggled against Iowa. Because of Wyoming's offseason departures, Allen was much more conservative in his throwing. Instead of relying on the vertical "gunslinging" that has ignited his fame, he focused more on horizontal quick passes. 

In Allen's last 2 performances against Power 5 teams (the other team being Nebraska), he threw one touchdown and seven interceptions. Against Iowa, Allen repeated much of the same mistakes that he committed vs Nebraska. The concerning aspect of his mistakes is that they largely stem from his strengths.

Allen prefers to be a gunslinger. He is a well-sized quarterback who, despite his mobility, prefers to utilize his quick release and arm strength in order to go down the field. But, he often forces his passes into windows that are too tight. His decision-making is problematic. So is his accuracy. His inconsistent throwing mechanics often prevents him from executing different pass plays. His sore shoulder (in the non-throwing arm), is a lingering problem that can only hurt him.

The protection will be there with an experienced offensive line. But the support cast is missing from last year and Allen doesn't have the talent to make up for last season's departures.

Oregon's offense does not face the same questions. They put up 42 points in the first half last week against Nebraska thanks to the duo of Justin Herbert at quarterback and Royce Freeman at running back. Herbert is capable of achieving big gains with his legs and with his live arm, all the while eliminating turnovers. His biggest playmaker is Charles Nelson, whose versatility allows him to excel in the slot, as a deep threat, and in the back field. Freeman is a workhorse who is difficult to bring down upon first contact. He is a strong runner who gladly trucks opponents, but also makes life easier for himself by using his excellent vision and ability to find holes in the defense.

Oregon's ability to eliminate turnovers is huge because Wyoming thrived on causing turnovers. Overall, Wyoming's defense was pedestrian last season and continues to be a huge liability. They boast the conference's top duo in the safety position, but they are especially soft against the run. A strong back like Freeman, behind an experienced and deep offensive line, should be productive against a Wyoming defense that finished outside the top 100 in yards allowed per game despite playing in a smaller conference.

Oregon's defense last season was a disaster. But they got some help in the offseason. They hired Colorado's defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, who has deserved a reputation for making bad defenses good. They also received Scott Pagano, who was Clemson's top reserve on the defensive line and played a part in their national championship. 

At linebacker, the Ducks are led by Troy Dye, the Freshman All-American who led all Freshmen, and his team, with 91 tackles. He also led the Ducks with 13 tackles for loss and and 6.5 sacks. The secondary is led by senior Arrion Springs, who led the Ducks last season with 12 passes broken up. 

The Ducks' defense is on the rise with their talent under Leavitt, who will improve their fundamental and schematic soundness, better utilize their skill set, by, for instance, utilizing Dye as a pass rusher more often than leaving him in space, and steel them against the frequency of assignment errors that plagued them last season. Their depth is thin, but this is not worrisome in the start of the season.

 

The Verdict

Wyoming does not have the tools to keep up with an Oregon offense that is both balanced and prolific. Oregon's defense still faces questions after a disastrous campaign last season, but Wyoming's offense, given its departures from last season, has even more questions. Oregon has improved its ability to prevent turnovers on offense, which should kill the defense of Wyoming's last hope. Oregon's defense boasts playmakers on the line, and in the linebacking corps and secondary to ensure a strong lead for Oregon. By betting on the first half, we account for Oregon's notorious tendency to take the foot off of the gas pedal with a large lead on our NCAAF Picks.

 

Free NCAAF Pick: Oregon 1H -7.5Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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