Football Season Returns
By Fred Delkin
September launches another edition of college football, which has reached an
unprecedented level of interest in our state...and the school most responsible for this attention
opens on a national television. Preseason punditry has anointed the University of Oregon as a repeat national title contender and the Ducks open against LSU, another title contender. The game is staged at the new home of the NFL Dallas Cowboys, a somewhat neutral site, but far closer to the Bayou Bengals' home territory than to where the Webfoots call home.
Last January, Oregon acquitted itself well against the pride of the South, Auburn. Now the
Quackers face another Southeastern Conference powerhouse. We believe the Ducks will
narrowly prevail in this one, though Louisiana State University's recent grid history argues
against that outcome. LSU, under coach Les Miles, won the national championship in 2007 and has finished four times in the national top 10 rankings. UO mentor Chip Kelly can't compete in the coaching resume' category, but he has fearsome talent returning, led by RB LaMichael James and QB Darron Thomas. We'll give the offensive edge to Oregon, but the decision may reside with the defense.
Your television screen will vibrate with the inrtensity of this matchup, and the winner will vault
to number one in the following week's balloting. We foresee OREGON by 1.
There are only two other contests of any note in the new Pacific 12 Conference opening slate. Cal opens on a neutral field in San Francisco against Fresno State. The Bears' historic Berkeley venue is being renovated and this will be played at SF's Candlestick Park. UC coach Jeff Tedford is hearing some grumbling from Bear faithful and though not loaded with veterans at key positions, he should prevail narrowly. CAL by 3..
Norm Chow, considered perhaps the nation's best offensive coordinator when he labored at
USC, bailed out of coach Rick Neuheisel's UCLA staff for a new post at conference newcomer
Utah. That is an indication that Ricky's brash mouth has run its course and we think Bruin
donors will give him the gate at season's end. Houston has a solid nucleus returning, enough to hang another loss around Neuheisel's neck. HOUSTON by 6.
The other Pac 12 squads all open in Sptember's initial week, but they're playing patsies. Arizona State hosts Cal Davis and Utah hosts Montana State, both mismatches occuring Sept. 1. On Sept. 3, San Jose State goes to Stanford; Sacramento State visits Oregon State, Eastern Washington faces Washington, Minnesota meets USC in L.A., Idaho State is at Washington State, Northern Arizona visits Arizona and Colorado travels to Hawaii.
Portland State kicks off a second season under coach Nigel Burton by hosting Southern Oregon at Portland's Jeld-Wen Field, a fancy reincarnation of ol' Civic Stsdium. The visitors play in a collegiate sports classification beneath that of the Vikings, as the outcome will verify. PSU by 21.
Late breaking Pigskin comments:
Duck fans should be aware that LSU played on the new Cowboy Stadium turf less than a
year ago, whipping Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, 41-24. Nonetheless, we stick with our
forecast of an Oregon victory Saturday eve. We would also warn UW fans that their Saturday
opponent, Eastern Washington, is the defending national Division 1AA champion, defeating
Delaware, and should not be considered a 'gimme'...we recall what lowly Appalachian State did
to Michigan several seasons ago.
ROSES & RASPBERRIES...no accolades deserved for all the press coverage of player
pecadillos at UO, well-handled by Coach Kelly...a salute to the Portland Timbers for knocking
off the league-leading L.A. Galaxy, but we favor the American spelling of football...
© 2011 Oregon Magazine