Oregon is on the verge of whether The Shoe is suitable.
The Ducks are in Columbus, Ohio for the long-awaited and highly anticipated showdown Saturday between the No.12 Oregon and No.3 Ohio State at the historic 103,000-seat Ohio Stadium, dubbed the horseshoe according to his design.
The game represents a chance for the Ducks (1-0) to play against the Buckeyes (1-0), one of the most successful and recognizable programs in college football and at one of the most famous venues in the world. sport. More importantly, it’s also a chance for coach Mario Cristobal’s team to position themselves as a college football playoff contender as early as week two of the season, with a national TV audience watching.
“If you’re a real competitor you always want to compete against the best and Ohio State is an elite program from the top down,” Cristobal said. “A program rich in history, a great story, in a place where they have had huge success.”
The Ducks have already had the chance to secure decisive wins against the Buckeyes. Nine times, in fact, and they came away empty-handed each time, starting with a 10-7 loss at the Rose Bowl to end the 1957 season.
Most recently, the Ohio State shocked the Ducks led by Marcus Mariota in the 2014 CFP Championship game, winning 42-20 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.
Six years earlier, in Chip Kelly’s first season as a coach, the Buckeyes had beaten Oregon 26-17 at the Rose Bowl to cap the 2009 season.
The last time the Ducks played at Columbus was in 1987 when they lost 24-14.
The betting line has Oregon a 14.5-point underdog, perhaps a nod to the talent and depth of Ohio State as well as the Ducks who don’t look particularly impressive in their 31-24 season opener against Fresno State last Saturday.
Oregon trained outside this week with man-made noise to prepare players for what lies ahead. The Ducks also traveled to Columbus on Thursday to adjust to the three-hour time difference for what will be a 9 a.m. kick off on the West Coast.
“You recognize this is a prime time game on a big stage in front of just about everyone, right?” Said Cristobal. “You’re extremely excited about it, but every ounce of your potential success in a game, game by game, depends entirely on your preparation, your focus, and your ability to perform under duress, under pressure. “
Ken Woody:Oregon Ducks will need QB Anthony Brown to put on a show against the Ohio State Buckeyes * only for subscribers *
Here are some questions for the Ducks before the game.
Can Oregon establish its racing game?
Minnesota lost to Ohio State last week, 45-31, but it was a one-possession game until the end of the fourth quarter thanks in large part to Gophers running play.
Is that the plan for hanging out with the Buckeyes?
Minnesota rushed for 203 total yards, but had 179 in three quarters before all-star backer Mohamed Ibrahim left with an injury. The Gophers were leading 14-10 at halftime.
Oregon ran 49 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns against Fresno State, the majority of those yards coming in the fourth quarter when CJ Verdell had 65 yards on 11 carries, and quarterback Anthony Brown scored on a 30-yard rush. .
The Ducks are hoping the fourth quarter performance will continue through Saturday. Nothing calms a crowd, kills momentum, runs the clock, and opens up the passing game like a strong running game and sustained workouts.
Can the Ducks defense limit the big plays?
What killed the Gophers last week was that despite having the ball for nearly 39 minutes and producing practices that often ended in points, the Buckeyes simply responded with quick touchdowns.
Ohio State only needed 48 plays to score five touchdowns – all for 38 yards or more, including four for 50 or more and two for at least 70 yards.
The Buckeyes are rich in talent in skill positions and will definitely put stress on Ducks linebackers and linebackers.
Will Oregon have Kayvon Thibodeaux?
And if they do, will it even be 100%?
No one will know the answer until kick-off on Saturday, as Cristobal has been quiet this week on the status of his star defensive end, who sprained his left ankle in the first half against Fresno State.
In his last update on Wednesday, Cristobal said Thibodeaux was still “hand to mouth”.
Having their best player on the field will be essential for the Ducks. Ohio State Redshirt QB rookie CJ Stroud didn’t face a passer of Thibodeaux’s caliber. Getting to the quarterback is a great way to reduce the risk of explosion during the Buckeyes passing game.
Can the Ducks handle the intimidating environment?
It’s been two years since the Ducks played a real road game in a packed stadium, and only one player – nickel Bennett Williams, a transfer from Illinois – has played at a venue like Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes play in the third largest stadium in the country, and unlike cavernous bowl-style facilities like Michigan Stadium or the Rose Bowl, Ohio Stadium has a second deck throughout the Horseshoe, trapping noise .
It’s an intimidating environment that the Buckeyes have used to their advantage. They have won 23 straight home games and 30 of their last 31 games.
The last Oregon fan game away from Autzen Stadium was the 2020 Rose Bowl with a crowd of 90,462 on the neutral site. There are only three starters left of this game – Verdell and receivers Johnny Johnson III and Mycah Pittman – and 13 more who have seen the game time.
Can Anthony Brown help deliver the upheaval?
The Oregon QB got the starting job largely because of his veteran demeanor and what Cristobal called his ability to make “explosive pieces.”
The Ducks will undoubtedly need the first of the super senior as they will bring a relatively young inexperienced team to Columbus Stadium to play on the road. They would also like to see more of these from Browns after an opener in which the Oregon offense had just four plays from 20 yards or more.
Of course, one of those was Brown’s scoring fourth in the dying minutes to put the Ducks ahead for good. It was a big game in a big time and it will be up to Brown to deliver more if the Ducks get into a shootout with the Buckeyes.
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