Let’s take a closer look at the college football futures for one of the top teams out of the Pac-12 Conference to potentially win the 2015 NCAA Football Championship Game.
A legitimate contender
Oregon occupies the third spot at betting odds of +726 to win the national title at Pinnacle sports—behind only the Florida State Seminoles (+329) and Alabama Crimson Tide (+660).
The Ducks are one of just four teams to win at least nine games in each of the last five seasons—joining Alabama, LSU and Nebraska in that exclusive group.
Ducks redshirt junior quarterback Marcus Mariota is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, considering he averaged 281.9 passing yards per game a season ago, while also proving to be a dynamic runner before suffering a knee injury.
Mariota has worked his way back to 100% health in the offseason, which could lead to being the first overall selection in the 2015 NFL draft.
Getting After It Defensively
College football handicappers are often enamored with Oregon’s offense, but it’s important to point out that the program created 29 turnovers that led directly to 122 points a season ago.
The Ducks ranks seventh in the FBS in defensive passing efficiency, while finishing behind six teams in the Pac-12 with 29 sacks.
Running the Football
The Ducks signal-caller will receive most of the national headlines, but the team’s chances of landing one of four spots in the upcoming college football playoff will depend on the production it receives from a pair of running backs.
Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner rank first and fourth respectively in the Pac-12 in rushing yards per game among returning players.
Welcoming in the defending Rose Bowl champion Michigan State Spartans will be a major challenge in Week 2, but the Ducks will have plenty of time to prepare for that matchup due to opening the season against overmatched South Dakota.
The Ducks two biggest challenges in conference play will come on the road against the UCLA Bruins (Oct. 11) and hosting the Stanford Cardinal (Nov. 1).
There’s no question that Oregon deserves to be one of the betting favorites to win the championship game, but I’d rather invest in UCLA to represent the Pac-12 in that glamour spot.