Pac-12 Football Preview: North No. 1 Oregon Ducks

Jul 26, 2013; Culver City, CA, USA; Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich speaks to the media during PAC-12 media day held at the Sony Studios Lot. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 Season Preview Series

North:

2. Stanford

3. Washington

4. Oregon State

5. California

6. Washington State

South:

1. Arizona State

2. USC

3. UCLA

4. Arizona

5. Utah

6. Colorado

2012 record: 12-1 (8-1 Pac-12)

Key returnees: CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, DE Taylor Hart, QB Marcus Mariota, RB/WR De’Anthony Thomas,

Key departures: LB Kiko Alonso, RB Kenjon Barner, DB John Boyett, DE Dion Jordan

Key additions: OG Evan Voeller (West Linn HS/West Linn, Oreg.), DE Torrodney Prevot (Alief Taylor HS/Houston, Tex.), RB Thomas Tyner (Aloha HS/Aloha, Oreg.)

2012 season recap:

Chip Kelly’s final hurrah was nothing if not impressive. Behind the arm and legs of freshman superstar Marcus Mariota, Kelly led the Ducks to another BCS bowl game. This time the Ducks beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon looked like a sure bet to get to the National Championship Game until Stanford came to town. The two teams battled for the right to play for the Pac-12 Championship and either the Rose Bowl or National Championship. The Cardinal prevailed, therefore the Ducks were stuck with the Fiesta Bowl.

Kenjon Barner put together another All Pac-12 campaign to help ease Mariota into the starting role, though, Mariota didn’t seem to need much coddling, as he found himself in the Heisman Trophy debate by season’s end. The Ducks were dominant game in and game out the whole season. Other than Stanford, the closest call may have been when Washington State trailed only by three at halftime. That’s how impressive the Ducks were in 2012.

2013 season preview:

With Kelly now in Philadelphia, Mark Helfrich will take over the reins in Eugene. While Kelly was a college football mastermind, don’t expect there to be much change, if any, with Helfrich in charge. He was the offensive coordinator under Kelly for four seasons before being named head coach. In that timespan, the Ducks made four BCS bowls and won three Pac-12 championships. Surely, Kelly will be missed, but may be all but forgotten by the end of the season when the Ducks have another Pac-12 trophy.

Now that Mariota has a year of college football under his belt, his name is popping up everywhere as one of the top quarterbacks in the country, and deservedly so. He’ll lead the Ducks this season, with Barner, last season’s leading rusher, graduated. The Ducks miss a serious Pac-12 contender in Arizona State this season, making the schedule unnecessarily easier for them. November 7 is pegged to be the game of the season when Oregon travels to Palo Alto to face Stanford. If they can pull a win out on the road, there shouldn’t be anything standing in the way of another Pac-12 title and BCS birth.

2013 season prediction: 11-1 (8-1 Pac-12), Pac-12 North Champions

Topics: Football, Oregon Ducks, Washington Huskies

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