G.W. Gras

Senior Writer for The Bears Brawl and Lead Host of The Bears Brawl Podcast.

 Oregon Ducks
Last Season (8-4 in regular season; 9-4 counting bowl game)
This Season O/U Win Total: 8.5

Quarterback Justin Herbert finished last season with 29 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and over 3000 passing yards. Many thought that, the junior quarterback would forego his senior year and enter the NFL draft, but he chose to stick it out for one more season with coach Mario Cristobal in Oregon. For Herbert, the decision was a smart one. Last year’s quarterback pool wasn’t too great, and this year (at least in the preliminary look of things) it seems even less stellar. Herbert is a fine prospect, but coming back and working on going through his progressions a little more will make him the stand out QB prospect. He should have ample time to go through those progressions behind an offensive line, which is anchored by four seniors – three of which are no doubt going to play in the NFL.

Source: Steve Dykes/Getty Images North America

Last year, Juwan Johnson had a very disappointing season at Penn State, only netting one touchdown all year, and going from 701 yards receiving in 2017 to 352. Johnson is 6’4”, 231 pounds and has speed.  He should be dynamic, but his lack of concentration and average route running just allowed him to be an outside blocker for most of last season.  As a graduate transfer, he has been given a second chance to fulfill his potential under, what should be one of the more consistently productive offenses in the Pac-12.

The great thing about this offense is that even if things get too choppy with the air attack, the offensive line, coupled with the running back talent of sophomore CJ Verdell will help balance things out.  Verdell, as a freshman ran for over 1000 yards and had 10 touchdowns.  A second year in this system and those numbers can easily turn into 1300 and 15.

This Oregon Ducks defense will be a great counterpart to this offense and what is scary is that their best player is probably true freshmen, Kayvon Thibodeaux.  Thibodeaux is a five-star defensive end, who already has the size (6’5”, 240) of an NFL pro, and will be able to put his talents on display because there is veteran talent on the defense that will take away the possibility of double-team blocks.

Looking at the schedule there is a three-game-block, that will make or break this Ducks team from going over the projected 8.5 wins total: Oct 19th at Washington, October 26 vs Washington State and November 2nd at USC. Even if they lose the game at Washington, they have a week before their next two opponents. Winning just ONE of these games SHOULD get them to nine wins – and winning at least two of these games will be key for this Ducks team to represent Pac-12 North.  Every few years or so, Oregon has presented itself as a team that is worth the talk of becoming a “National Champion” and that time may be coming around again.

The Pick: THE OVER at 8.5

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio