A Good Bet: Oregon's Football Season Centers Around Husky Game on Oct. 3

Dan Raley

The Las Vegas odds-makers have anointed the Oregon Ducks as the Pac-12 favorites, but they're not totally sure what to make of this reconfigured, post-Justin Herbert football team.

They point to the Oct. 3 Oregon-Washington game in Eugene as a make-or-break moment.

When they host the Huskies, the Ducks will be playing their fourth home game in five outings. Seven of their 12 contests will be held at Autzen Stadium in 2020. 

They already will have faced Ohio State at home. That one's all set for Sept. 19.

In the accompanying video, Sports Illustrated's gambling expert Frankie Taddeo breaks down Oregon's possibilities. 

Two things come to mind before these Northwest football rivals get hyperventilated all over again for their deep dislike for each other and mix it up.

Will Oregon have any lingering residue from an afternoon with the Buckeyes? A tough or bad loss to the Big Ten powerhouse could linger with them for some time.

That intersectional game likely represents the only one in which the Ducks won't be favored going in.

So who's at quarterback? Who will replace Herbert?

Oregon has a situation not unlike the Huskies.

The Ducks return a sophomore, Tyler Shough, who has thrown only a handful of passes. He's their Jacob Sirmon. Tall and untested. 

They have a redshirt freshman, Cale Millen, who hasn't played yet. Millen, whose father Hugh was a UW and NFL quarterback, dealt with a shoulder injury throughout 2019. He's Oregon Dylan Morris, in terms of class standing and waiting to debut.

Oregon has an incoming freshman quarterback, Jay Butterfield, similar to the UW's Ethan Garbers. Both are four-star California recruits.

Where these two Northwest rivals differ is the Ducks also have a wild card at this position, grad transfer Anthony Brown. The UW flirted with that idea, but couldn't convince Wake Forest's Jamie Newman (Georgia), Stanford's K.J. Costello (Mississippi State) or USC's JT Daniels (Georgia) to finish up in Seattle.

Brown was a three-year starter at Boston College before tearing up a knee at midseason last season. It's not entirely clear why he left the program, considering his long history there and the fact he must still be rehabilitating. It's not clear how he'll bounce back from the damaged hinge either.

In four months, when Oregon and Washington go at in the Willamette Valley, all of those questions should be answered.

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