The Ducks are in the College Football Playoff! Well, at least they are as of right now.
The initial standings were released this afternoon and Oregon was revealed to be in the fourth seed behind third place Michigan State, second place Alabama, and first place Georgia.
This may come as a surprise to many, as Oregon has not been playing at what appears to be a very high level, battling tooth-and-nail to survive teams they should be taking care of much more easily.
At the end of the day though, it’s the wins and losses that matter, and Oregon is 7-1 after week 9. Former Ducks great Joey Harrington made a name for himself in Oregon lure by repeatedly “winning ugly”, but the bottom line was that he won.
On Saturday Oregon finally thumped an inferior opponent the way they were expected to, defeating Colorado 52-29. Before Oregon pulled its starters, the score was 45-14. Perhaps the Ducks asserting themselves with a blowout just before the initial standings were released helped their cause, because for the most part they have survived in the hunt by virtue of their win in Columbus over the Ohio State Buckeyes, who have continued to look like a playoff contender after the loss to Oregon.
Ohio State will play third place Michigan State at home before the end of the month, and Georgia and Alabama (numbers one and two) will meet each other in the SEC Championship game in December barring any crazy upsets.
If Oregon is in the playoff as of now, that means it is almost 100% in control of its own destiny. The CFP committee has shown that it will generally reward the champion of one of the Power 5 conferences a spot in the playoff if that team has one loss or less, provided the loss wasn’t a thumping.
Oregon’s loss to Stanford was an embarrassment, there’s no way around that. But it was an overtime loss that was heavily influenced by some questionable calls from the officials to wind down regulation. That’s no excuse for losing the game, but it may have been something the committee took into consideration. A team should not be kept out of the playoff due to mistakes by the refs.
Still, Oregon is far from in the clear. The Ducks have become probably the most hated and hunted team in the conference due to their success over the past decade plus, and every team they face for the remainder of the season will bring everything they have to their matchups with the back-to-back defending Pac 12 champions.
There’s still a long way to go, and the dominoes will have to continue to fall the right way, but at least as of now Oregon can get its third shot at a National Championship if they don’t slip up.