Hope has not been lost, but Oregon (3-1) will be playing with a sense of urgency against California (3-1) on Saturday at Autzen Stadium. Both teams are coming off tough losses during their Pac-12 openers last weekend.
Welcome back for ATQ’s newest series Prognostication Station! Each week of the Pac-12 season, we will take a look back at our preseason projections and make a few new ones for the week ahead. Let’s break down the first full slate of games on the Pac-12 calendar:
WEEKLY PAC-12 PROJECTIONS (4-2 OVERALL)
#5 USC @ #16 Washington State
If Sam Darnold plays like he did vs Cal, the Trojans are going down. Regardless, I have WSU
Final Score: Washington State 38, USC 35
Arizona State @ Stanford
Manny Wilkins has zero interceptions in 2017 but that streak will end against the Cardinal
Final Score: Stanford 44, ASU 27
#6 Washington @ Oregon State
After embarrassing Colorado, this week could get out of hand vs worst Pac-12 team
Final Score: Washington 59, Oregon State 13
Colorado @ UCLA
Nobody is happier to be at home than QB Josh Rosen. Bruins struggle against angry Buff team
Final Score: UCLA 24, Colorado 23
PRESEASON PREDICTIONS (2-2 OVERALL)
California (W, 4-1)
This will be one of the toughest home games for the Ducks this season. Oregon owes the Golden Bears a taste of their own medicine following the 52-49 double-overtime loss in Berkeley last year. Justin Herbert will toss four scores against Cal this year, bringing his career total to 10 against the Bears. Davis Webb is now in the NFL with the New York Giants. Meanwhile, Ross Bowers has thrown more INT (8) than TD (6) in 2017, so look for the Duck secondary to try and jump some routes. Patrick Laird is the Cal workhorse who will be held under 80 rushing yards by the Duck front seven. Jacob Breeland will secure seven catches or more if Charles Nelson remains out. Watch for Justin Hollins who will record three sacks in the victory. Final Score: Oregon 42, Cal 41
@Arizona State (L, 3-1)
We have seen our share of shootouts between these two programs. However, this year's matchup will stay rather subdued thanks in large part to Oregon’s defense finding their rhythm. Herbert will explode for four scores in the Pac-12 opener, including a rushing touchdown. Brenden Schooler will make a big impression in the middle of the field and Thomas Graham Jr. will record an interception in the win. ASU will extend their losing streak to 14 straight vs the Ducks (2004). Final Score: Oregon 45, Arizona State 23
Comment: Yikes, I was way off. Manny Wilkins outplayed everyone on the field. ASU kept the ball out of UO’s hands.
@Wyoming (W, 3-0)
I’ve seen a lot of outlets, especially around Eugene, that are predicting this as a win for the Ducks. Clearly, they have not watched Josh Allen yet. Most scouts have him as the No. 1 quarterback in the 2018 NFL draft class. He had 36 overall TDs and 3,700-plus yards from scrimmage in 2017. This game frightens me more than most Pac-12 contests this year. Wyoming is talented and underrated no matter the popularity of their gunslinger. Being the first road test for the Ducks, it will be tough to overcome an early deficit. This will be a struggle early in the season. Final Score: Wyoming 27, Oregon 24
Comment: Allen looked awful, as did the rest of his Wyoming team. I was pleasantly surprised by Ducks’ defense.
Nebraska (W, 2-0)
The rematch from last year is set to continue at Autzen Stadium in 2017. The Huskers may not be as good, but the program from Lincoln is always fundamentally solid. It will be another barnburner, as Herbert and the Ducks will escape late in front of the home crowd. Freeman left last years contest with an injury and did not return. He will make up for lost time in this one with 163 rushing yards on 19 carries in the victory. Leave it to kicker Aidan Schneider to blast us home victorious. Final Score: Oregon 37, Nebraska 34
Comment: The offense was unconscious in the first half, but let the Huskers back into the game with complacency.
Southern Utah (W, 1-0)
The Ducks shouldn’t have much of a problem with the Thunderbirds, but we all remember how bad the defense looked last season on opening day. Playing a team like Southern Utah is simply a tune-up contest in preparation for the Huskers. None of the first team players should stay on the field beyond the first half. However, Justin Herbert and the offense will be out there long enough to make some big plays. Look for Charles Nelson and Johnny Johnson III to get started early, while Royce Freeman should have a light workload. Kani Benoit will rush for over 100 yards. Final Score: Oregon 63, Southern Utah 10
Comment: Pretty much what we expected versus a lesser opponent. A record-setting performance by Oregon’s offense.
Next Friday we’ll project the upcoming week on the Pac-12 Conference calendar, as well as looking back at our preseason predictions for Oregon’s next opponent.