oregon sports

What to expect when the Ducks face Nicholls State

High Flying Beatdown

Nicholls State (0-0) at No. 3 Oregon (0-0)
When: 4:00 PM ET, Saturday, August 31, 2013
 Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon

The college football season is less than a month away and fans of the Oregon Ducks could not be more excited. Avoiding a postseason bowl ban as part of their sanctions handed down by the NCAA COI, many believe Oregon is bound for yet another Pac-12 Title as well as a BCS National Championship.

Not trying to get too far ahead of ourselves (though I already did that a month or two ago…oops), the Ducks will obviously have to get past their first opponent if they want to immediately start their season on the right note.

It doesn’t appear that will be too hard, either, as Nicholls State is slated to make the trek to Autzen Stadium to face the No. 3 ranked Ducks (at least in the initial Coaches Poll). Now I know many fans across the nation are booing this type of matchup, but it is one that has unfortunately come to define the start of the college football season across the country.

Aside from one or two high-profile matchups such as Clemson vs. Georgia (which I am already salivating about), many programs throughout the United States now bring in cupcake opponents that are either lower-tier Division I teams or part of Division II or III leagues as well.

The cupcake opponent usually travels to the hosts stadium, takes a beating in front of a monstrous crowd, and leaves with a bunch of extra cash in their pockets.

Marcus Mariota Oregon Ducks

Don’t think Mariota won’t show off his impressive skillset in the opener (Photo: Oregon Football)

Ideally, the NCAA will do something in the future to prevent this from happening. However, as it stands right now, these small programs seem more than willing to take a pounding from some of the best teams in the nation for some extra cash to improve their facilities and exposure.

But then again, there are times when these cupcakes will pull off the biggest upsets and completely shake-up the college football landscape for the rest of the season (just ask the Michigan Wolverines how much these small-tier schools can change a season).

Here’s what to expect when Nicholls State heads to Autzen Stadium to take on the Ducks.

A Blowout

As mentioned just a moment ago, there have been times when these smaller schools who are huge underdogs pull of the biggest upsets in the land. That will definitely not happen when Nicholls State heads to Autzen Stadium.

I mean, to expect a team like Nicholls State to keep the score even respectable will be difficult against the Ducks. I’m not trying to disrespect their program, it’s just that Oregon is THAT good. Plus, if the Beavers could put up 77 points on this squad, the Ducks could easily rack up around 80-90 (not saying that this will happen, however).

PT for the Backups

Hand-in-hand with a blowout is plenty of playing time for some of the backups on the 2- and 3-deep. While the starters will get to see probably two quarters of play, by halftime the score should already be well out-of-hand in favor of the Ducks. We’ll get to see some of the young guys (really hoping Thomas Tyner gets a lot of action in the second half) as well as some of the older guys who may not have really had the chance to showcase their skills on the field yet.

Jake Rodrigues over Jeff Lockie

Rodrigues should earn the backup spot to Mariota (Scott Olmos/USA Today Sports)

Rodrigues should earn the backup spot to Mariota (Scott Olmos/USA Today Sports)

One of the more interesting position battles heading into the season is that of the backup quarterbacks. Pitting Jake Rodrigues against Jeff Lockie, both played pretty impressively in the spring game and look to be in a tight competition. That said, I think Rodrigues is the best fit for the Ducks, though Lockie is right up there as well.

Look for Rodrigues to see action in the game before Lockie, but expect both to get playing time in this game as well, as they will undoubtedly be needed throughout the rest of the season.

DAT gets 8-10 touches

One of the risks in games like these is that you’ll see a significant player go down with an injury before facing top-tier opponents. Obviously this is something programs wish to avoid, so expect De’Anthony Thomas, one of the contenders for the 2013 Heisman, to garner few touches in the contest.

While he will get to flash his speed and athleticism and get a few obligatory touches for the crowd, he’ll likely be used as more of a decoy in this game as the Ducks should be able to easily set Nicholls State to the side.

Ifo gets a pick

One of my favorite players on the team and a relatively unheralded one by the nation media, I fully expect — and want — Ifo Ekpre-Olomu to get his first of many picks of the season in this game.

A quick and instinctual player, Ekpre-Olomu is yet another great defensive back to be groomed at Oregon, and he will burst onto the national scene in 2013.

This game won’t mean much in the long run, but it’s still college football and the Ducks.

We’ll look for later games to a bit more challenging, but let’s just hope the rest of the season will be as smooth as this game should.

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About Chris Anderson

NWSB Editor. Chris hails from Eugene, Oregon; home of the Fighting Ducks. If he is not viewing, writing about, or attending sporting events, Chris is running on the trails Eugene offers or out-and-about. Aspirations to exceed expectations. Connect w/ Chris today!
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