September 1, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Byron Marshall (9) dives for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE
Fresno State Bulldogs (1-0) at #4 Oregon Ducks (1-0)
3:30 Pacific :: Pac-12 Networks
THE MATCHUP: Oregon comes off a dominant performance against Arkansas State that saw the Ducks up 50-3 and pulling their starters midway through the second quarter. QB Marcus Mariota's performance in the season opener leaves few questions for the Ducks, who are expected to pound Fresno State in similar fashion. However, there are some things that Oregon fans would like to see confirmed. Offensively, a second consecutive strong performance from Marcus Mariota, as well as continued improvement from the young receivers would lend a great deal of confidence headed into Pac-12 play, as would improvement from freshman running back Byron Marshall, who showed a lot of want against Arkansas State, but needs to do less dancing in the backfield. Finally, more want and better overall play from the reserve defense would be preferred. However, even without these performances, Oregon is one of the best teams in the country and will likely win by multiple touchdowns. Fans simply need issues that will serve to induce the proper levels of PANIC.
For Fresno State, change is the name of the season. Longtime coach Pat Hill is out, finally fired for failing to build on any of his big wins and lead the Bulldogs to a conference championship. The new coach is former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who brings with him his no-huddle spread passing attack and 3-4 defense to Fresno. QB Derek Carr was efficient vs. Weber State, completing 20/25 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns, despite not having two starting receivers, while the offense also rushed for 217 yards. The defense allowed only 67 rushing yards. However, while it was an encouraging start for the Bulldogs, facing Oregon is a lot different then facing an FCS squad. However, Fresno State should get a boost from their two starting receivers returning this week. That said, running a no-huddle against Oregon means more possessions for Oregon. Yay.
Oregon and Fresno State do have a fairly extensive recent history, with six meetings since 1996. Oregon has won all six, though two went to overtime, and five of the six were by a touchdown or less.
THE INJURIES: For Oregon, starting LT Tyler Johnstone left the Arkansas State game in a walking boot, but should return this weekend. For Fresno, starting receivers Josh Harper (hamstring) and Rashad Evans (suspension) look to return.
THE VENUE: You know where.
THE COACHES: Tim DeRuyter was the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M last season. I'm not sure how he parlayed that into a HC job after A&M's spectacular second half collapses last year but, hey, good on you Tim DeRuyter.
KEY PLAYERS FOR FRESNO STATE:
QB Derek Carr -- While Fresno was terrible last season, quarterback wasn't the problem. He passed for over 3500 yards with a 63% completion rate last season, and was even better against Weber State. He's a great fit for Fresno's new offense.
WR Davante Adams -- The 6'2" freshman caught seven balls for 118 yards and two scores last week. He needs a similar performance for Fresno to keep the game close.
Takeyourpick Onthedefensiveside -- Pat Hill didn't get fired because of his offense, he got fired because his defense left his offense unable to compete. They gave up over 35 points per game in WAC play, including 48 in a loss to perennial doormat New Mexico State. Who is going to step up?
KEY PLAYERS FOR OREGON:
S Brian Jackson -- Fresno's four-wide spread attack will test the safeties in coverage. It will be a good test for the new rover.
RB/WR/PR/KR DeAnthony Thomas -- If he scores three touchdowns again, will anything else even matter?
RB Byron Marshall -- If Oregon gets out to another big lead, we can expect to see another heavy dose of Marshall. Can he improve on his 2.7 ypc in the first game?