Oregon Football: Ohio State Potentially the National "Game of the Year"

The Oregon Ducks enter the 2024 season as a newcomer to the Big Ten Conference. While this may be new territory for Oregon, they are already tabbed as a team that will compete for the Big Ten Championship and a berth in the expanded playoffs. To get there they will need to get past some of the best teams in all of college football—enter Ohio State. The Ducks host the Buckeyes on October 12, a game that sports columnist Paul Finebaum believes is one of the biggest of the year.
Ohio State Buckeyes running back Miyan Williams (28) is pursued by Oregon Ducks linebacker Noah Sewell (1) during Saturday's NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on September 11, 2021.
Ohio State Buckeyes running back Miyan Williams (28) is pursued by Oregon Ducks linebacker Noah Sewell (1) during Saturday's NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on September 11, 2021. / Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch via

High expectations for multiple teams have many circling an October date when the clash of titans is to commence.

The Oregon Ducks enter the 2024 season as a newcomer to the Big Ten Conference. While this may be new territory for Oregon, they are already tabbed as a team that will compete for the Big Ten Championship and a berth in the expanded playoffs.

To get there they will need to get past some of the best teams in all of college football—enter Ohio State. The Ducks host the Buckeyes on October 12, a game that sports columnist/reporter Paul Finebaum believes is one of the biggest of the year.

During Finebaum’s show, a caller asked about the significance of the Georgia-Texas game. He responded that this game would be one of the top two, Oregon-Ohio State being the other.

“I think that game (Georgia vs. Texas) very likely will be two undefeated teams,” Finebaum said. ”There are a handful of games that right now look like the biggest games of the year. I think the Ohio State vs. Oregon game is one of those.”

Finebaum knows it is incredibly early to make these predictions and this may change once games have been played. Yet, the basis for his picks is sound.

 Jan 1, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Dan Lanning celebrates with the trophy after defeating the Liberty F
Nov 18, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Dan Lanning against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Mountain America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

All four teams are likely to be ranked in the top five in the country when the games are played. In addition, both games could significantly impact conference championships and the College Football Playoff field.

An early top 25 ranking from ESPN has Georgia as number one, followed by Ohio State, Texas, and Oregon. The Ducks could very well be considered the dark horse in this race, but they bring an impressive resume to the game.

Coach Dan Lanning is already recognized as a top coach in FBS after just two seasons with Oregon in which the Ducks went 22-5 and claimed back-to-back bowl victories. Despite the loss of several key pieces, including quarterback Bo Nix (NFL/Denver), Oregon has bolstered their roster through an efficient use of the transfer portal.

Leading the additions is former Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel. Texas A&M transfer Evan Stewart is expected to improve the wide receiver room. Returning running back Jordan James will replace Bucky Irving (NFL/Tampa Bay). James rushed for 759 yards with 11 touchdowns in 2023. Defensively, Safety Kobe Savage (Kansas State) and cornerback Jabbar Muhammad (Washington) were nice transfer portal additions to the Pac-12’s No. 1 pass defense.

As to Ohio State, coach Coach Ryan Day's teams have a winning percentage of 86.8. The lone blight on Day’s record is the fact they have lost three straight years to Michigan. Like Oregon, Ohio State used the transfer portal to bolster their roster. They signed five-star safety Caleb Downs (Alabama), tailback Quinshon Judkins (Ole Miss), and quarterback Will Howard (Kansas State).

Mar 5, 2024; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive coordinator Chip Kelly works with quarterbacks during the first
Mar 5, 2024; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive coordinator Chip Kelly works with quarterbacks during the first spring practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA

In a surprising move to some, Day hired former UCLA coach Chip Kelly as offensive coordinator. As an added twist to the story, Kelly had previously been Oregon’s coach. During his four-year tenure, the Ducks went to two Rose Bowls, a Fiesta Bowl, and a BCS National Championship, losing that title game to Auburn. Kelly finished 46-7 before moving on to the NFL.

Finebaum could certainly be right that Oregon vs. Ohio State is a top-two game in 2024. Regardless, this game pits two teams that are players on the national scene and has all the makings of an instant classic. Ducks’ fans will pack Autzen Stadium when the Buckeyes come to town in October for a game that can’t be missed.


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Mark Lantz

MARK LANTZ