Brother v. Brother: Mariota, new uniforms and the most overated/underrated teams

Everyone has an arch nemesis. Mine just happens to be my older brother. But our incessant bickering has led to many an entertaining discussion through the years. And because much of these debates have centered on college sports, it seems only appropriate we take them to the blogosphere to settle them once and for all. Here's your weekly fraternal debate affectionately known as Brother v. Brother.

GrumpyJDH: The Ducks' season begins TOMORROW, Brother. Boom! I couldn't possibly be more pumped. You ready for this?

PaulSF: I'm absolutely beside myself. I feel like this guy.

GrumpyJDH: Ha! Who decides a ridiculously cheesy 10-second sax solo would look and sound so much better as a 10-minute loop? Here's who: someone brilliant. I doubt even Epic Sax Guy could make Bryan Bennett crack a smile right now, though.

PaulSF: Yeah, probably not. Speaking of, (1) did the Ducks make the right choice at quarterback?

GrumpyJDH: Absolutely. You already know I loved Mariota and felt he was going to win the day, so to speak. As for Bennett, I wouldn't have blamed him for wanting to move on. Wouldn't any rational backup stuck behind someone younger? I've been saying for months that Darron Thomas left for precisely that reason: He simply wasn't guaranteed to start despite all he'd done for the program. Apparently, Clownzano agrees, though he felt Thomas was hearing only Bennett's footsteps. Turns out they were both hearing Mariota's.

PaulSF: Based on talent or performance alone, I'm not as convinced Mariota was the clear-cut choice. But I also don't think he needed to be. Even if he and Bennett were neck and neck throughout camp, Mariota has more eligibility and a schedule that's set up to break in a brand new quarterback. If the two were a dead heat leaving camp, Mariota was a no-brainer. Bennett needed to distance himself significantly to earn the job, and he apparently didn't. However, if we were taking on LSU in Dallas tomorrow to open the season, I have no doubt Bennett would have been the guy. At the very least, we have the best QB insurance policy in the country and, of course, a potential game-breaker behind center.

GrumpyJDH: It's an embarrassment of riches, for sure, but we're kinda used to that by now, aren't we? Switching gears a bit, I'm curious to hear your take on last week's other big reveal. (2) What do you think about the Ducks' uniform lineup for 2012?

PaulSF: There's nothing really surprising in the mix this year, since they're basically the same amazing uniforms we debuted at the Rose Bowl, just with more colors. What's not to love?

GrumpyJDH: Well, the special lady friend thinks grown men shouldn't wear jerseys so I don't love that. I love pretty much everything else about them, though. I especially dig the yellow jerseys and I can't say I've ever been in love with previous versions in that color. Oh, and the green "liquid metal" lids? There isn't a cooler helmet in football. All of football.

PaulSF: Sounds like we agree on something for once. Let's move on to something we likely won't agree on. (3) Who's the most overrated team in the Pac-12? Underrated?

GrumpyJDH: You're gonna think this is crazy but I'm going with USC for most overrated. Don't' get me wrong: They're good. However, they got our absolute worst performance last year (including the game in Dallas) and still would have likely succumbed had we not shanked a field goal on the final play. What's really changed this year? They're still lethal on offense, yeah, but the elder Kiffin hasn't proved he really knows how to stop Chip's offense and the personnel isn't markedly different. Most underrated? Utah. There's a defense that can stone people.

PaulSF: I think it's nearly impossible for a top-ranked team to not be at least somewhat overrated, but I think USC's a legit contender. My most overrated? It's Washington, which was picked to finish 5th in the conference. We're talking about a defense that ranked in the lower half of the conference in nearly every statistical category, including second to last in both total defense and scoring defense. The last time the Huskies played (8 months ago), they gave up 67 points (all offensive) to Baylor. Sure, hiring a Duck to take over your defense is a good start, but there's no way Wilcox turns this group around this quickly. As for most underrated, I'm going to agree with you on Utah. The Utes are the only team with even a chance of beating USC and winning the South title. And if they do it, it will be because of Star Lotulelei and that stifling defensive front. I'm actually relieved we don't have to play the Utes this year, because they're dangerous.

GrumpyJDH: I like the way you think. We must be related. Anyway, let's expand the scope a bit: (4) Who are your most overrated and underrated teams in the country?

PaulSF: Overrated? West Virginia. Beating up Big East teams is one thing. Having the same level of success against the likes of Oklahoma and Texas? That's an entirely different thing. The most underrated team, coincidentally, is Texas. Sure, they've been down and out the past few years, but they've also been loading up on top talent, finishing with a top-5 recruiting class (according to ESPN) the past 4 years. With two new up-and-coming coordinators (Bryan Harsin and Manny Diaz), look for a big rebound from the Longhorns this fall.

GrumpyJDH: I think the SEC getting five teams in the top 10 is ridiculous, BCS title run be damned. Five?! Georgia is the most overrated of the bunch and I think we'll find out why during the second weekend when they pay Mizzou a visit and welcome the Tigers to the conference. Typical of their SEC brethren, the Bulldogs sport a pretty nasty defense. The offense, however, relies solely on Aaron Murray's wing after the Isaiah Crowell dismissal. Quick, name the last pass-happy SEC squad to dominate the conference. As for underrated, I'm gonna go with former BCS party-crasher, TCU. Gary Patterson can flat coach and though the Horned Frogs aren't as dominant on defense anymore, they're probably more explosive on offense. Sounds like they'll fit right in with their Big 12 foes.

PaulSF: I actually considered TCU. I'm just not convinced moving from a patsy league to a power conference will net results right away (hence my West Virginia choice). Guess we'll find out, eh?

GrumpyJDH: That's why they play the games, Brother. Speaking of which, it's time to talk about the game, our opener against Gus Malzahn and his Red Wolves. (5) How do the Ducks fare in the first tilt of the Mariota era?

PaulSF: The single-game points record at Autzen is 72, right? Just kidding. Arkansas State is actually a halfway decent squad. The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt and finished with 10 wins in 2011. And with Malzahn at the helm, they should put up some big numbers this fall. That said, I think they're the perfect challenge for breaking in a new quarterback: slightly competitive, but not a complete pushover. I expect the Ducks to hang about 50 on them, but might give up 20 or so in the process.

GrumpyJDH: Yeah, he won't publicly say as much but I'm betting Chipper would love to hang half a hundred on Coach Malzahn, the architect of Auburn's BCS chip team. No problem, I say. I'm going with 56-24 as Mariota scores one with his legs and throws for a couple of scores in his much-anticipated debut. Ryan Aplin is a legit dual-threat QB and has more game experience than our young field general, but...the Red Wolves still need to play defense (roughly) half the time. That won't be fun for them.

PaulSF: I think what we're ultimately saying is the Ducks won't beat the 37-point spread. Hats off to you, Arkansas State. You've apparently got us betting against our Ducks.

GrumpyJDH: Never bet against your boys, Paully. I'm staying away from this one.

PaulSF: I'll take the over, then.

GrumpyJDH: No question.

PaulSF: Okay, I think we're done here. One more question, though: How many TDs does De'Anthony Thomas score tomorrow night?

GrumpyJDH: All of them, I hope. He is, after all, the centerpiece RB for my college fantasy team.

PaulSF: So it's OK to bet on your boys?

GrumpyJDH: ;-)

PaulSF: Don't wink at me.

GrumpyJDH: Whatever.

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