Weekend Matchup: U.C. Davis Aggies vs 24 Oregon Ducks
When: September 3, 2016 at 2 p.m. PT
Vegas Over/Under: TBD
The Aggies of U.C. Davis, under fourth-year Head Coach Ron Gould, come to Autzen Stadium this Saturday to take on the 24 ranked Ducks of Oregon.
Interestingly enough, Gould is a former Oregon Duck himself having played in 1987 and having also held a graduate assistant coaching spot during the 1990-1991 college football season. Though Gould’s Aggies haven’t been up to par in the FCS Big Sky Conference, going 4-18 in their last two seasons, they come into Saturday’s matchup against the high-powered Oregon offense that is trying to bounce back from last year’s 9-3 season.
So, what does each team need to do in order to walk out with a season-opening victory on Saturday?
For Oregon: There is no question that the Ducks are a heavy favorite and should easily cruise to a season opening victory. One thing that the Ducks need to do is to limit turnovers, which shouldn’t be a problem because they only had three interceptions all of last season. The Ducks will also need to keep everyone healthy, especially with the big matchup against Nebraska coming up on September 17th. And the Ducks will need to focus on is playing their game and not playing down to U.C. Davis’ level.
Oregon’s starting quarterback, Dakota Prukop, already has some familiarity with the U.C. Davis Aggies having beat them 77-37 in 2014. In the lopsided game, Prukop, was 17-22, throwing for 361 yards and four touchdowns. Prukop also scrambled 14 times gaining 148 yards and scored two additional touchdowns.
Furthermore, the Ducks’ skill players could overwhelm the U.C. Davis’ defense and put this game out of reach early on, given Oregon’s deep passing game and wide receiver offensive weapons Darren Carrington and Devon Allen. And let’s not forget Pharaoh Brown, who could arguably be the best tight end in college football this year and Heisman contender, Royce Freeman, who are both capable of putting on a clinic come Saturday.
For U.C. Davis: Although the Aggies don’t have good odds on their side, we all know how crazy college football can be. Being that Oregon is such a powerhouse team, U.C. Davis will need a particular strategy to be competitive against the Ducks.
One way the Aggies could make themselves competitive is by using field position to their advantage. For example, U.C. Davis’ punter Colby Wadman has a 50 yards per punt average and if the Aggies can pin the Ducks deep in their territory, it should play well in their favor. And the Aggies could also use time of possession to their advantage, who averaged 34.5 minutes per game last season, ranking them second in the Big Sky Conference.
For U.C. Davis to even have a chance at winning this “David vs. Goliath” matchup, their starting quarterback, C.J. Spencer, must be laser-focused and locked-in on Saturday. However, after taking over as quarterback during the last three games of the 2015-16 season, Spencer has only averaged a 63 percent completion rating, putting up 759 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. Spencer will have to have the game of his life and put up much better numbers if the Aggies stand any chance of an upset.
Finally, the Aggies defense will also need to limit Oregon’s offense by making sure that they aren’t constantly giving up big yardage plays. Junior safety Darryl Graham, who led U.C. Davis in tackles and had 1/3 interceptions last year, needs to step-up and lead the defense in making sure Oregon offensive weapons (Darren Carrington, Dwayne Stanford, and Devon Allen) aren’t wide open to make highlight-real plays.
Prediction: Oregon will dominate this matchup and cruise to an easy victory, with a final score of 56-24, to open up the Ducks’ 2016-17 season. And if this prediction holds true, Prukop will likely be pulled by the fourth quarter, which will provide some playing time for true freshman quarterback Justin Herbert.
Wrap Up Notes: The Oregon Ducks will be hosting two official prospective player visits during the U.C. Davis game, from three- star wide receiver Chad Terrell and four-star inside linebacker Jacob Phillips.