I never like feeling like I'm overconfident. However, unless NSU dresses several players who covertly made it into the bayou while on scholarship from LSU this game isn't going to be close. I would expect the defense to pressure early, often and force turnovers and try to do some scoring themselves. Last season, the Colonels scored a total of 195 points. For comparison's sake, Oregon eclipsed the 195 point mark in the opening minute of the 4th quarter against Arizona in week 4. The Colonels are paced by their senior running back Marcus Washington. The 5-11 Alabama product played in 10 games last season, and averaged just under 60 yards per game. His best performances came against Evangel (NAIA) and Lamar where he ran for 110 and 104 yards respectively. The offensive line isn't particularly large and if Oregon's defensive line is as good as has been advertised Washington may have a hard time getting anything going until late in the game.
It's still a mystery as to who Nicholls is going to name as starting quarterback but whether it is Beaux Habert or Tuskani Figero, they have the unenviable task of opening their career in one of the loudest stadiums in the country against a top 5 opponent. The Colonels do return two of their top three receiving threats in Josh Hanberry and the aforementioned Washington but neither of them had a reception resulting in a touchdown. Nicholls is going to miss Aldero Russell and Jesse Turner, who had the most TD receptions from a year ago with 3 and 2.
It will be interesting to see how Oshay Dunmore handles the drop end role and how the LB's handle a live game situation but that is truly the only drama waiting for us in this game.
This game isn't going to be close and Oregon is frankly more physically gifted, better coached and more talented than Nicholls and have no excuse but to blow the Colonels out. Coach Aliotti has alluded to NSU using several different looks to confuse a defense, but when you practice against the Oregon offense week in, week out, it's unlikely they will be surprised by any looks Nicholls brings out Saturday. All in all, we are going to see a lot of players rotate on defense for the Ducks and it will be nice for the second and third string to get some live game reps against someone wearing a different color. The game experience they get this week will be invaluable later in the season when a more competitive opponent comes to Autzen.