Oregon

Can Ducks beat the spread?

Oregon's line to beat UCLA has blossomed to 17
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

One of the biggest questions for University of Oregon football fans heading into this weekend's game with UCLA probably isn't whether the Ducks can beat the Bruins at Autzen Stadium, but can they beat them by 17 or more points?

And, that's just Friday morning.

The betting line for the Oregon win in Saturday's 12:30 p.m. game on ESPN2 was 13.5 at the start of the week, but it's grown by more than a field goal since. Oregon enters the game at 2-0 and ranked No. 11, while UCLA is 1-1 and unranked.

Oregon is coming off a 43-29 win over Washington State, and won its season-opener 35-14 over Stanford.

UCLA lost 48-42 at Colorado in its opener, then throttled Cal 34-10 on Sunday in a game that was invented after it's scheduled game Friday with Utah was cancelled due to Covid the day before. So, UCLA had just two days to prepare for the Bears, who had their game with Arizona State wiped out to Covid, too.

Obviously, those in the know and with money in hand that says they know what's what, think the Ducks are set to throttle the Bruins and continue their march to the College Football Playoffs.

There is plenty of concern, though, for those who've watched Oregon's two wins, which have concluded with the team having five more turnovers on their side that the opposition's side. Were it not for Stanford's four missed field goals, and that incredibly blown coverage at the end of the first half of the Washington State game, the outcome of both wins might have been drastically different.

It's not hard to think the Ducks could fairly easily be 0-2 entering Saturday's game.

Probably the best thing for fans entering the weekend is that the Ducks won, they simply won regardless of the point outcome. That's the most promising sign for a team of destiny - winning the crappy games. Far too often in the past five years, Oregon has lost those games, and to those specific teams: Stanford and WSU. Who doesn't remember first-and-goal at the one against Stanford and the snap three feet over Justin Herbert's head that turned into a 99-yard fumble return? And, then a loss.

Oregon has played like an Aloha Bowl team for much of its two wins. If Stanford had made all four of its field goals, the Cardinal would have been trailing just 28-26 in the fourth quarter. But, the Ducks also missed a field goal, so there's also points that don't show.

And, Oregon trailed 19-7 with 20 seconds left in the first half against WSU when quarterback Tyler Shough hooked up with wideout Jaylon Redd for a 57-yard pass to the WSU 3. CJ Verdell promptly ran for a short touchdown and that bumped the score to 19-14.

Oregon got the second-half kickoff and drove down the field for a touchdown and a 21-19 lead ... oh wait, the Ducks drove to the WSU 19, but missed a field goal.

The next four drives, though, were touchdowns, and it's that string of scores that likely is still resting in bettors' heads.

UCLA's win Sunday included an impressive stretch of four touchdowns on five drives. But, that was in the first half, which ended 27-10. In the second half the Bruins had one touchdown, two punts and two turnovers on downs. Their second half went the opposite of Oregon's.

So, the line was 17 on Friday. Morning. Can Oregon beat UCLA by 18? Maybe they'll have to win by more by the time kickoff arrives.

 

 

Ducks roll through Stanford

Oregon opens Pac-12 play as favorite, and wins
Staff Report

The magic of Stanford beating Oregon that's happened in the past lasted about seven minutes Saturday night.

In the rest of the PAc-12 Conference football opener between the Cardinal and Ducks, Oregon dominated and finished with a 35-14 victory in the season-opener for both teams at Autzen Stadium.

Tyler Shough, making his first start, compiled 312 yards of total offense and threw and ran for touhdowns to lead the Ducks, who were conference champions last season.

CJ Verdell ran for 105 yards and a score on 20 carries and Travis Dye and Cyrus Habibi-Likio also ran for scores as Oregon compiled 269 yards on the ground, and 496 total yards to help overcome a pair of turnovers.

Stanford amasses 413 total yards and moved the ball continually, but stalled in Oregon territory, which led to four field-goal attempts - all misses.

Oregon missed its lone attempt as well.

The Ducks return to play on Saturday at Washington State, which won at Oregon State Saturday.

Portland State gets ready for its home opener in basketball.

 

Oregon ready for season to start

Ducks face always-tough Stanford in opener Saturday
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

Once the Oregon football team selects a starting quarterback, everything will fall into place for coach Mario Cristobal.

Right.

The Ducks have so many questions in their line-up on offense and defense it's amazing any betting line would set a point figure on their game at home with Stanford Saturday.

But, of course, money talks, and the Oregon program talks plenty in every nook and cranny of the Pac-12 Conference these days, making its way to being the lone conference school in the AP Top 12 at 12.

Not USC. Not UCLA or Stanford or Washington, but Oregon at 12.

Game time Saturday is 4:30 p.m.

Oregon is an eight-point favorite over the Cardinal, one of the most pesky schools in the Pac-12 as in having kept the Ducks from a national title game numerous times. The other team is Washington State, which beat Oregon four straight seasons - a streak ended last season.

For Cristobal, Saturday can't come soon enough. 

"Finally," he said Monday, "the game is here!"

Oregon, as with the rest of the conference, had its season postponed to spring back in July, then had it resurrected in September to start in the first week of November - Nov. 7. The season will last eight weeks, with the final one being a championship game preceeded by a day in which the other conference teams will play within each other one final time to round out their schedules.

Oregon has played in the Pac-12 Title game three times in the past nine years, since it began in 2011. (Stanford has played in it four times.)

 

Ducks call off practice due to positive tests

Five players test positive, causing team to scrub second scrimmage
Staff Report

Out of extreme caution, Saturday's Oregon football practice inside Autzen Stadium was canceled due to five positive antigen tests within the program.

These are the first positive tests within the football program since daily testing began. All five are asymptomatic, in isolation and being monitored by medical staff.

The health and safety of UO student-athletes is and will continue to be the athletic department's top priority. Local health authorities have been notified and contact tracing is in process.

"I wish I had answers to some of the questions you might have; I don't," UO head coach Mario Cristobal said during a previously scheduled conference call with media timed for after the scrimmage. "I just wanted to provide you with transparency, let you know exactly where we are today.

"The scrimmage was canceled; tomorrow we are testing the entire team again, which is normal policy anyway, and (conducting) follow-up PCR tests for the other guys that had tested positive as well. And then from there we'll see what the next steps are."

Oregon hoops leads national rankings

The senior class signings are No. 1 according to ESPN
Staff Report

In spite of all the challenges college athletics have had to handle this year, the prospects of coming seasons have not stopped, and the Oregon men's team has assumed a special place in national respect - it's recruiting class of current high school seniors is ranked No. 1 by ESPN.

Staff writers Jeff Borzello and Adam Finkelstein named the Ducks No. 1 earlier this week, topping all the traditional recruiting powers such as Duke, Louisville and Kentucky.

“Recruiting didn’t skip a beat, despite coaches not being able to see prospects in person and being forced to conduct recruitments entirely via phone and video," the duo wrote. "The 2021 class is still relatively on pace with previous classes, as 70 prospects in the ESPN 100 are already committed. So we have a strong idea of how the top recruiting classes in the country are going to stack up.”

Oregon coach Dana Altman has enticed two of the top centers in the nation - Nathan Bittle and Franck Kepnang, rated No. 2 and 4 among centers. Another signee, Johnathan Lawson, is among the top forwards. All three are rated at 47th or higher in overall Top 100 recruits.

 

Oregon, Oregon State open at home

The seven-game schedule begins Nov. 7, ends with Dec. 18 championship game
Staff Report

Oregon's two members of the Pac-12 will begin their football seasons at home, the conference announced Saturday.

Oregon will play host to Stanford, while Oregon State plays host to Washington State.

Whether fans will be allowed in their respective stadiums has not been revealed.

After cancelling the season in August, the conference voted last week to play a seven-game season and took a week to create a schedule. The annual Civil War is set for Nov. 27, midway through the schedule. Both schools are scheduled for just three home games.

The seventh game of the conference schedule includes the championship game, set for Dec. 18 - a Saturday. Teams that do not qualify for the title game will play their seventh game the preceeding Friday.

Oregon is the defending champion and lone team from the conference ranked in the Top 25 - at 14.

2020 SCHEDULE

NOV. 7

Stanford at Oregon

Washington State at Oregon State

NOV. 14

Oregon at Washington State

Oregon State at Washington

NOV. 20.

UCLA at Oregon

NOV. 21

Cal at Oregon State

NOV. 27

Oregon at Oregon State

DEC. 5

Oregon at Cal

Oregon State at Utah

DEC. 12

Oregon State at Stanford

Washington at Oregon

DEC. 18

Conference championship

Oregon opens rebuilt Hayward to its teams

The recently finished track and field stadium gets athletes touch
Staff Report

Hayward Field is finally going to get its stamp of approval from the athletes set to use it most.

The track and field and cross country teams were scheduled to visit the stadium's insides Friday - the first time the athletes would be allowed to see the spaces they'll use during training and competition. The stadium, which was razed and completely rebuilt, has been off limits other than the track and outer concourse until today.

Some athletes had been training at the stadium since late summer, but the cardio and strength equipment they used had been moved to the concourse so that the unveiling would be held when all the team's athletes were back on campus.

Oregon had expected to have athletes use the stadium in spring, but the COVID-19 outbreak changed those plans.

Hayward Field had been set to hold the Olympic Trials in summer, but the outbreak moved the 2020 Olympics to 2021. Hayward Field is still set to host the Olynmpic Trials.

Seating, which had been roughly 8,500 prior to the construction, seats 12,650 spectators, but can be expanded to more than 25,000.

Oregon has not released a schedule for cross country or track and field.

 

Ionescu, Sabally catch league's eye

Oregon's two standouts are among top jersey sales
Staff Report

The University of Oregon women’s basketball team had quite an impact on the WNBA this season, regardless of wins and losses.

Sabrina Ionescu and Satou Sabally, the top two picks in the league’s draft, were among the top 10 most popular jerseys sold this season through the WNBA store.

Ionescu, who plays for the New York Liberty, was No. 4, and Sabally, who plays for the Dallas Wings, was No. 10.

They were the only rookies among the top 10, which was led by Seattle’s Sue Bird.

TOP SALES WNBA.com

1. Sue Bird, Seattle Storm

2. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury

3. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks

4. Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty

5. Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

6. A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

7. Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm

8. Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics

9. Courtney Vandersloot, Chicago Sky

10. Satou Sabally, Dallas Wings

 

 

Are college student/athletes really just assets?

Oregon's rumored bail from Pac-12 is just bad for the state
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

There’s a lot of online discussions these days about the University of Oregon leaving the Pac-12 Conference for better exposure and bigger financial numbers in the Big 12 or even Big Ten, and it’s all wrong for the state.

It’s probably a good decision to the bottom line for Oregon’s athletic department, and especially its football program, but the school needs to remember it’s a public institution and there should be a lot more commitment to that than a few dollars and better positioning for the College Football Playoffs.

Yes, USC is apparently looking hard at that same move, which has social media abuzz with which other schools would bail from the Pac-12, and Oregon is either next, or right behind UCLA with Washington in there, too.

That would leave the Pac-12 with eight schools, including Oregon State, and a huge drop in revenue for each so that it would then need to add members or merge with another conference such as the Mountain West.

And, it’s all basically related to football and its four-team national championship playoffs.

The Pac-12 does just fine competitively in every sport, right up to the four-team CFP, which is an annual battle to play into ahead of a second team from the SEC. This past season, Oregon won the Pac-12 and was in the discussion for a spot until a late-season loss at Arizona State knocked it out. Even though the Ducks won the conference title game with a dominating performance, being a conference champion of one of the five Power Conferences - along with the ACC and All-American Conference - doesn’t mean anything to the CFP voting committee, which probably still would have put one-loss Alabama ahead of one-loss Oregon into the Final Four.

Is that one thing enough to leave behind the Pac-12 and sister school Oregon State?

Here’s a "no" vote on that.

A key thing to figure in is the athletes that make the school what it is. Sure, each school wants to give its athletes the best experience possible, and that revolves around money to a significant degree. But, is football the complete measure of an athletic department’s capabilities?

If the conference champion can’t compete for a spot in the CFP equally with the second-place team from the SEC or Big Ten without being unbeaten, should the entire world of college sports on the West Coast change?

College football is already crazy with how much money is delivered to head coaches - many of whom are more known in each state than, say, the governor (at least until recently).

The Athletic’s Andy Staples recently wrote this four-team move should happen into the Big 12, which would become the Big 16 (even though the Big 12 only has 10 schools and would thus become the Big 14) - what a crappy name to be part of.

The Pac-12 has tons of history that doesn’t seem to be much of a factor in these rumors, only money does. Plenty of athletes - student/athletes - love being part of the history of the conference. Winning a conference title has that flair attached to it. It’s not just a conference title, it’s a Pac-12 title with a list of former champions that goes back to 1916 for some sports - football and baseball. That would all be gone with a conference title needing wins over schools such as Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas State.

And, again, Oregon State gets absolutely lost in that, as would Washington State for that state.

Oregon State scrimps along to compete in the Pac-12, as does Washington State, but those schools compete relatively equally in many other sports - remember the national title the Beavers’ baseball team won in 2018? And 2006, and 2007?

Rumors are great for social media, especially these days where there’s no actual contests to bounce around. But, Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens would do the state a great favor by talking over this subject with media and putting the Ducks squarely in the conference it’s been a part of for more than 100 years.

 

Pritchard keeps on winning

Ducks senior named Player of the Year
Staff Report

Payton Pritchard has added again to his mancave of basketball spoils.

After being named a first-team All-American Tuesday, Pritchard was named the recipient of the 2019-20 Lute Olson Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top Division I player, Wednesday by CollegeInsider.com.

Pritchard is the first player from the Pac-12 to win the award.

The 2020 Pac-12 Player of the Year was one of just three players nationally to average at least 20 points, four rebounds and five assists per game and was one of just four players nationally who led his conference in both scoring (20.5 points per game) and assists (5.6 per game).

He joined Gary Payton (Oregon State, 1989-90), Damon Stoudamire (Arizona, 1994-95) and Jason Terry (Arizona, 1998-99) as the only players in conference history to lead the league in both scoring and assists. Like Pritchard, the previous three players to do that were all consensus first team All-Americans and Payton and Terry were National Players of the Year.
Pritchard also led the league with 88 three-pointers, joining Stoudamire (112) as the only players to top all three categories in the same season.

Pritchard helped Oregon to an outright Pac-12 regular season title, the Duck’s third in the last five years. Oregon finished 24-7 overall (13-5 in the conference).

Named Oregon’s first consensus first team All-American in 80 years on Tuesday, Pritchard has been named a first team All-American by nine different organizations this season.

Pritchard is one of five national finalists for both the Naismith Trophy and the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. He is also one of 15 student-athletes on the Wooden Award National Ballot.

Named the national player of the week by three different organizations this season (Naismith Trophy, Oscar Robertson Trophy, NCAA.com) and twice named Pac-12 player of the week, Pritchard led the nation with 140 consecutive starts.

He is the only player in Pac-12 history with 1,900 career points, 600 career assists and 500 career rebounds.

Pritchard finished his career as school record holder in assists (659), wins (105) games played (144) and games started (140). He ranks second in both UO career steals with 211 and three-pointers with 288. His 1,938 career points rank fourth all-time at Oregon.

Pritchard scored at least 20 points against 10 different Pac-12 opponents this season.

He was voted the Pac-12 Tournament Most Valuable Player in 2019, when he led the Ducks to four wins and a berth in the NCAA Tournament, where they reached the Sweet 16.

The award is named in honor of Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson, who won 776 games in 34 seasons, 24 of which were spent at the University of Arizona. During that stretch he led the Wildcats to 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, 23 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, four Final Four appearances and a National Championship in 1997.
 
Lute Olson Award Winners
2020 Payton Pritchard, Oregon
2019 Ja Morant, Murray State
2018 Jalen Brunson, Villanova
2017 Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
2016 Denzel Valentine, Michigan State
2015 Cameron Payne, Murray State
2014 Doug McDermott, Creighton
2013 Shane Larkin, Miami
2012 Doug McDermott, Creighton
2011 Kemba Walker, Connecticut
2010 Sherron Collins, Kansas

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