There are two games left in the regular season and the Ducks' built up dreams of the last three years are on the verge of bursting into reality. Oregon feels very good right now, sitting pretty at No. 2 in the Playoff rankings and in the best shape of anyone to win their remaining three games including a conference championship.
Three More Tests
Yes, they seem to be halfway through the door to the Playoff and very likely to be able to make it happen, but three more teams will have a chance to knock off Oregon and claim the bragging rights of knocking off a contender. As a Ducks fan, it has to scare you at least a little bit that Oregon has been in this position every year since 2010, and has always fallen at least one rung short of the top of the college football ladder. Here's what Colorado, Oregon St and the PAC 12 South champion have to play for when they face Oregon.
Colorado is 0-7 in the PAC this year. They are 2-8 overall, and it was one of those years where they lost to Colorado St, so they haven't been able to hang their hats on anything this year. Their biggest win so far is against Hawaii. So yeah, a win in Autzen this Saturday would mean the world to the Buffaloes. It would give first-year Coach Mike Macintyre all the cushion he needs coming into next year. The Buffs have absolutely nothing to lose. It would provide Colorado one piece of evidence to prove that they actually belong in the PAC 12. How hard would it be to pull off? Well, they aren't at home, where they were able to take UCLA and Oregon St to the wire. They aren't playing at night, when the PAC 12 has provided its craziest upsets. They also have the 106th best pass defense, and have the 120th ranked scoring defense....and Oregon has the 3rd best pass offense in the country. So you mean there's no chance for them at all? Well....
So we are assuming Oregon will come in one win stronger to Corvallis to take on the Beavers. The Civil War is a crazy thing. Oregon has won the last six meetings but Oregon St is hungry to end the streak. Last year in Autzen Oregon barely pulled it out, winning 36-35. It was scary for the Ducks, and Oregon St is solid once again, and even if they aren't a great team, they are playing their best football fresh off a huge upset victory at home against Arizona St. Sean Mannion is a force to be reckoned with and one of the best passing QBs in the PAC 12. The running back duo of Terron Ward and Storm Woods has combined for nearly 1300 yards and could give the Ducks just enough to deal with, and with the wild uncertainty of the Civil War atmosphere, you have to give Oregon St a shot in this one. It's a rivalry game, and the Beavers would love nothing more to end the streak and as an added bonus, effectively crush their rivals' chances of winning the national title.
PAC 12 Championship
Ok, here's how it's going to happen. Utah is going to beat Arizona then win out. Arizona is going to beat Arizona St. UCLA is going to beat USC, only to lose to Stanford the following week, and force a 5 way tie for the South. That I believe is what we deserve as fans for a fantastic finish to what has been an unusually exciting season for the division. It is the most ridiculous outcome I can think of, and pretty unlikely, but you have to admit it would be pretty cool. Realistically, we will probably see Arizona St or the UCLA/USC winner, where Arizona St owns the tie breaker over USC, and UCLA owns it over ASU. Either way, this ain't no walk in the park conference championship game. If Oregon makes it with one-loss to the championship, which they should be able to no problem, they will have a dragon waiting for them at Levi's Stadium before they can have the castle. Arizona St would figure to be the biggest challenge, with Taylor Kelly and that offense posing a viable threat to Oregon's suspect defense.
Oregon's biggest nemesis this year has been injuries, and if Oregon can stay healthy, particularly on the Offensive Line, they will have a very good chance. According to SB Nation's odds of winning out, the Ducks are given a 94.8% chance to run the table. Only Ohio St, given a 96.5% chance to win out, is higher among playoff contenders. Those odds are really nice, but remember there are three more to go.