Historically, November has been the month that can make or break a season for a college football team, including the Oregon Ducks. That's often when the Ducks face Stanford, which as of late has been one of their tougher matchups of the year.
This year, however, that tough stretch could come a little earlier. According to ESPN, Oregon's toughest part of their 2016 schedule will be in October. Over a span of three weeks, the Ducks will travel to Washington State, face Washington at home and then face Cal on the road.
ESPN has their reasons for why that will be Oregon's toughest stretch, but I'll give you mine.
Last season, the Cougars pulled a stunning overtime upset over the Ducks in Eugene, with Washington State coming out on top 45-38. In that game, Luke Falk tore Oregon's secondary apart, throwing for 505 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Gabe Marks had 111 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Both Falk and Marks are back this season, and the game is up in Pullman, where the Ducks were almost upset two years ago.
When it comes to the Huskies, it seems like everyone says "this will finally be their year." Last month, ESPN had the Huskies ranked No. 17 in their way-too-early top 25. The Ducks will try to extend their winning streak to Washington to 13 games. I always believe a winning streak like that gets harder every year to keep up with added pressure, but I've also always said that when the streak ends, it will be on the road in Seattle. Oregon plays Washington in Eugene this year.
After taking on Washington, Oregon will face Cal in Berkeley. Oregon has recently survived their games against Cal by simply outscoring them, and with the departure of Jared Goff and his top six receivers from last year, this looks to be a very winnable game on the schedule. However, weird stuff always seems to happen when the Ducks play in Berkeley. The games always tend to be closer than you might think they'd be, and that could be the case this year.
Survive this stretch, and Oregon could have a clear path to a division title. Stumble, however, and it will be another disappointing trip to a non-New Years Six bowl.