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Tako Tuesdays: Best Case/Worst Case

This post has something for everybody.

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There are two types of Oregon fan that read Addicted to Quack:

1. The Blind Optimist - This fan believes Oregon can, should, and will go undefeated and win the national championship. Any true Oregon fan should share their belief, and any dash of realism should be taken up the road to Corvallis with an orange shirt and a swift kick in the jeans. We are elite, damnit, and if you disagree you're a waste of a seat in Autzen.

2. The Paranoid Pessimist - Paranoid Oregon fans tend to be of the older generation, the type to never forget The Suffering, and to always be expecting the other shoe to break the camel's back in a china shop (#mixedmetafwhore). This run of success, success none of us deserved, was great and all. But all great things must come to an end, and that end is always this year.

The pessimist is just happy to go to a bowl game; the optimist is livid that Oregon doesn't have multiple national championships by now. The pessimist would have been perfectly happy with Jeff Lockie; the optimist was Vernon Adams or bust the entire offseason. The pessimist will be okay with an 8-5 season, and will freak the heck out at anyone who jinxes Oregon and picks them to win it all; the optimist will call for Mark Helfrich's head if the Ducks don't cover the spread against Eastern Washington, and will absolutely lose it on everyone if Oregon can't even win their division.

I plan on trolling both of them, with a best case and worst case scenario for Oregon's 2015 season.

Worst Case Scenario

After all the hoopla surrounding the QB battle, it turns out Oregon's problems were on the other side of the ball as Jordan West, Vernon Adams' replacement at Eastern Washington, comes out firing in a revenge game. Along with All-American wide receiver Cooper Kupp, West abuses a young and inexperienced Oregon secondary, throwing for over 300 yards in the first half as EWU takes a 34-28 lead into the locker room. Oregon clamps down in the second half to win 59-43, but the questions linger with Michigan State on the horizon.

As talented as Vernon Adams is, his lack of experience with the Oregon offense rears its head in East Lansing; miscommunications between quarterback and receiver lead to three interceptions, including a pick-six. A second-half charge isn't enough, and Oregon loses a regular season non-conference game for the first time since 2011.

After a win over Georgia State, a shaky win at home against Utah, and a win over Colorado, Oregon takes on Washington State at Autzen Stadium, and the wheels start to come off from the start. The Ducks gift the Cougs a pair of first-quarter fumbles that turn into 14 points. Adams and the Ducks offense can't seem to get rolling against an improved WSU defense. Down 28-10 at halftime, Mark Helfrich decides to bench Adams in favor of Jeff Lockie who, helped out by 150 second-half rushing yards by Royce Freeman, leads Oregon to a comeback 54-51 overtime win. Adams remains the starting quarterback despite the benching, but an all-out QB controversy has officially erupted in Eugene.

After a win over Washington, Oregon finds itself on the wrong side of #Pac12AfterDark on a Thursday night in Tempe, losing 57-55 in double overtime to Arizona State. The chaos continues nine days later, as Heisman contender Jared Goff and Cal come into Autzen Stadium and light up Oregon's back seven. For the first time in seemingly forever, Oregon's offense can't keep up with their opponents', and the Ducks take a losing streak into Palo Alto.

After dropping their third game in a row to the Cardinal, in which Stanford does boring Stanford things and wins and we all hate it, Oregon comes home to face USC; Cody Kessler throws for three touchdowns, Adoree Jackson returns a kickoff for a touchdown, the first one allowed by Oregon since 2006, and Oregon simply can't score enough to knock off the Trojans despite again inserting Lockie into the game to try and spur a comeback. The Ducks defeat Oregon State to finish at 7-5, 5-4 in the Pac-12. Oregon accepts a bid to the Foster Farms Bowl, where they get to exact minor revenge by beating Penn State. Jeff Lockie, irked by the Vernon Adams transfer and the constant uncertainty at quarterback, finishes his degree and transfers to Nebraska. Thomas Tyner declares for the NFL draft. Mark Helfrich is named the next head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Lane Kiffin is fired at Alabama, and is conveniently available for employment.

Best Case Scenario

The Vernon Adams show opens up against his former team, and Oregon's new starter is as good as advertised, throwing for five touchdowns by halftime as part of a 64-14 romp. The following week, Adams brings the Ducks into East Lansing and shows the veteran presence Oregon was looking for. After a close first half, the Ducks pull away in the second half for a 38-24 win over Michigan State. Oregon breezes through their next five games, and enter a Thursday night game in Tempe as the #2 team in the country. After the mandatory #Pac12AfterDark shenanigans, the dust settles with a 68-66 triple overtime Ducks win that puts Jerry Allen in the hospital. After wins over Cal and Stanford, USC enters Autzen for the first time since ruining Oregon's 2011 season. The Ducks put any notion of a repeat performance to bed, scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions en route to a 52-21 win. After trouncing the Beavers, the Ducks get a repeat date with Arizona State in the Pac-12 championship game. Up only seven late in the fourth quarter, Vernon Adams leads a twelve-play, 88 yard drive, finishing it off with a touchdown strike to Bralon Addison, sealing the conference title and a trip to the playoffs for a second consecutive year.

Prior to their CFP semifinal matchup, the Cotton Bowl against #4 Notre Dame, Vernon Adams becomes the first player to be named both a Walter Payton finalist and a Heisman finalist, finishing second behind only Trevone Boykin. Oregon dismantles the Irish, dropping 42 points in the first half and coasting to a 56-35 victory and a championship game date with TCU.

In the 2016 CFP title game, TCU presents the same sort of challenges that have stymied Oregon in its previous two national championship game appearances; supremely talented quarterback running a consistent and relentless offense, and an attacking defense with enough speed at the line of scrimmage to neutralize Oregon's weapons. After a fierce battle for nearly four quarters, Oregon finds itself down 28-24 with 2:38 to go, and the ball. Adams calmly moves the Ducks down the field, completing two third downs and a fourth down to keep the drive alive. A completion to Byron Marshall puts the ball at the TCU 9 yard line with 0:19 left. After a Royce Freeman run, Oregon's last timeout, and two incompletions, the Ducks have one last shot at the endzone. Three seconds left, fourth and goal at the 4. I'll let Jerry Allen tell the rest.

"Adams, gonna go back to throw the ball. Sets up, looks, throws toward the corner of the end zone it is..."