Games to look out for in 2012
The Oregon Ducks have become a powerhouse in college football, and having been Pac-12 champions for the past three years in a row, they will enter the new season looking for their fourth straight BCS appearance.
Here are the top five games of the 2012 season:
5) Sept. 1 VS. Arkansas State
Typically, a season opener against the Arkansas State Red Wolves wouldn’t mean much to the Oregon faithful. This game, however, could set the pace for the rest of the season.
Not only will the Ducks be entering the new year with a new quarterback taking snaps, but their all-time leading rusher, LaMichael James, will no longer be on the field.
Oregon opted last season to open their schedule against a top-caliber opponent in LSU, and a loss put them out of national championship talk after just the first week of competition.
Getting the quarterback snaps at home is going to be key, but don’t forget that the Red Wolves were 10-3 last season.
Expect this game to be somewhere in between the 72-0 routing of New Mexico two seasons ago and the demoralizing loss to LSU last year.
4) Nov. 10 @ California Golden Bears
Following the Nov. 3 matchup at USC, Oregon’s visit to Berkeley could prove to be either a classic bounce-back game or a classic letdown. The Ducks have lost three of their last four matchups in Berkeley, with their only victory coming in a 15-13 game that saw the Ducks’ offense eat up the final 9:30.
If Oregon is able to take down USC in Southern California, this game could be a classic case of the Ducks looking ahead to the end of the season and overlooking an underrated opponent.
If the Ducks fall to the Trojans, however, they could use their game against Cal as a statement game to prove that they still belong in the BCS conversation heading into the final few weeks of the 2012 campaign.
3) Oct. 6 VS. Washington Huskies
The Oregon-Washington rivalry is one that has bad blood, hurt feelings and bitter fans on both sides, yet it doesn’t seem to get the coverage it deserves.
Part of that could be that the two teams haven’t played a close game since 2000—the Ducks have won the last eight contests. Keith Price Jr., however, is arguably the second-best quarterback in the Pac-12, and he will look to test an Oregon secondary in what could be his breakout season.
2) Nov. 24 @ Oregon State Beavers
Don’t expect this year’s Civil War to have major implications for the Oregon State Beavers, but don’t expect the Ducks to let up in the season’s final game, either.
Oregon has won the last three meetings between the two in-state rivals, and with the Ducks seemingly on a different level than the Beavers, don’t expect it to be any different this time around.
If the Ducks are unable to take down USC on the road this season, a victory against the Beavers could be necessary if the team expects to make it to the Pac-12 Championship for the second straight year.
1) Nov. 3 @ USC Trojans
With a relatively easy schedule on board for the Ducks this year, the 2012 season will ultimately come down to one game.
Oregon and USC are both expected to be in the top 5 to begin the upcoming season, and following last year’s matchup at Autzen stadium, expect this year’s game to be just as exciting.
Despite missing a last-second field goal to tie the game last season, the Ducks rallied a massive comeback en route to a 38-35 loss.
If both teams can take care of business heading into the Nov. 3 matchup, we could see a top-5 battle in what could very well be a preview of the 2012 Pac-12 Championship game.