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What does it take to make a home football schedule "interesting" when you are a top five team?

Outside of a visit from Marqise Lee and the Trojans, there simply isn't another Pac-12 team outside Oregon that fits the term "marquee."
Outside of a visit from Marqise Lee and the Trojans, there simply isn't another Pac-12 team outside Oregon that fits the term "marquee."

Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian says that this is the most uninteresting home football schedule in years, and that Oregon can expect blowouts in all of their home games:

Where's the can't-miss matchup? The marquee visiting opponent? A menacing superstar?

The home schedule lacks all of these elements.

Fentress goes in search of an explanation:

It could be said that the Ducks have become so good they've outgrown much of their competition. Maybe. But this is also about bad luck. Oregon got stuck with home games against teams that would appear to have little chance of being competitive, let alone winning, at Autzen.

I think Fentress is right on with a number of points here. Most years, having the rivalry game with Washington, and a game with the other marquee name in the North, Stanford, as well as Rich Rodriguez coming into Autzen would be very interesting. But Washington hasn't beaten Oregon since 2004, Stanford, as a top ten team with Andrew Luck got torn apart by Oregon twice, and Rodriguez doesn't have the talent needed to stay on the field with the Ducks. For now, the Ducks have outgrown every opponent in the conference, save one.

The bottom line is that, given the level that Oregon football is at, only USC would serve as a marquee conference opponent. The Trojans won't be coming to Eugene for the next three seasons, which puts Oregon in a difficult situation as far as getting marquee games. Certainly, the program could fall from outstanding to very good, especially if Chip Kelly were to leave for the NFL, making games more competitive. Or a program could elevate to upper echelon level, which I think is probable given the new resources available to Pac-12 schools and the influx of coaching talent into the league the past couple of offseasons.

Oregon is also on track to have a more interesting non-league slate the next two seasons with Tennessee and Michigan State coming to town. Yes, Tennessee shouldn't be a major challenge on the field, but there is the allure of the rare SEC team coming to Eugene. And Michigan State has elevated itself to very good, even if still a level below elite. Also remember that his year's slate would include Kansas State if Bill Snyder's scheduling philosophy wasn't the softest in the country. And Kansas State was a top 20 team last season. However, there is also the truth that there aren't many Alabamas, Ohio States, or Texas' interested in travelling across the country to play in a 55,000 seat stadium that isn't in a major media market.

While I fully believe Oregon has reached the elite, even elite programs have downturns. And, given the cyclical nature of college football, its only a matter of time before, say, Washington, UCLA, and Arizona join Oregon and USC at a high level and there are a lot more interesting games in the conference. But there is also a fact that elite programs really only circle a couple of games a season because of the reality that they should beat everybody else. If anyone finds that too boring, remember that the alternative is mediocrity.