Are the No. 3-ranked Oregon Ducks about to go undefeated? And if so, how much would that help or hurt Ohio State?
Mario Cristobal’s bunch is currently undefeated, including that recent 35-28 victory over the Buckeyes in Columbus, but faces its toughest stretch over the next few weeks. Games at Stanford and UCLA (sandwiched around a home date with California) could be all that stands in the way of a perfect regular season for the Ducks.
Per the SI Sportsbook, Oregon is currently an 8-point favorite at Stanford this weekend (3:30 on ABC). While always formidable, Stanford has dropped double-digit home games to Kansas State and UCLA already. The Cardinal have been outscored 56-20 by Oregon the past two meetings.
Oregon then has a bye week, followed by hosting Cal, before the looming October 23 matchup at UCLA. If the Ducks can somehow escape that game victorious, I’m not sure who else gets in their way.
Sure, heading to Washington or Utah could always prove tricky. The culminating rivalry showdown with Oregon State has the ability to get wild (see last year’s 41-38 thriller), but it’s in Eugene this year.
For Ohio State (which needs to win out), the best-case scenario is Oregon losing twice and falling out of the picture. But that feels unlikely. If Oregon only loses once, they get the nod by virtue of that head-to-head result.
Let’s assume Oregon stays unbeaten and makes the College Football Playoff. Yes, that takes up one spot… but it could also become the best/only argument for the Buckeyes.
It might not end up mattering if, say, Alabama, Oklahoma and the Cincinnati/Notre Dame winner all go undefeated as well. Add in the second SEC team (Georgia/Florida) and Ohio State could be looking out regardless.
But, what if all hell breaks loose and you have a million teams with one loss? I’d think Ohio State’s lone blemish being that one-possession game with Oregon would play a critical role in the committee room. The only thing we know for sure… is that controversy and debate will arise no matter what come early December!
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