Oregon Ducks rank behind Washington, USC on ESPN’s Offensive Future Power Rankings


Recently, ESPN conducted a fun exercise where they put together power rankings for college football offenses.

READ: ESPN Features DJ Uiagalelei’s Fresh Start With OSU Beavers

The twist? They were looking at both the present and future potency of these units, not just for the upcoming season, but for the next three years (2023-25).

Lincoln Riley and USC got the top overall spot in the exercise as they return reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams at quarterback and the nation’s top overall recruit in 2023 in Malachi Nelson ready to succeed him.

The next Pac-12 team to find the power rankings was not Oregon, but their hated rivals to the north, the Washington Huskies, who check in at No. 8.

Part of UW’s high ranking is their expected dominance in 2023 with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and standout receivers Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan. They also have a four-star recruit in quarterback Austin Mack ready to succeed Penix after this year. But perhaps the Huskies’ biggest reason for long-term optimism on offense is their returning offensive coordinator, Ryan Grubb.

Nick Saban tried to lure Grubb away from Seattle this off-season to become Alabama’s play-caller, but Grubb ultimately opted to stick with his longtime coaching partner Kalen DeBoer, whom he’s coached under for over a decade. Grubb signed two contract extensions with UW last season alone and will be among the few coordinators across the country making $2 million in salary for 2023.

USC at No. 1. Washington at No. 8.

Oregon Ducks at No. 13.

“Oregon’s offense might not be back to the Chip Kelly/early Mark Helfrich levels of production and excitement, but it took an important step forward in 2022,” ESPN writes, noting the Ducks’ 38.8 points per game and the return of quarterback Bo Nix.

Behind Nix is Ty Thompson, the former five-star recruit who has stayed at Oregon despite not seeing much playing time and not performing up to his expectations when he has played. Four-star recruit Austin Novosad figures to get into Oregon’s future quarterback mix, as well as Michael Van Buren, a top-20 overall recruit in the nation for the 2024 class who committed to Oregon last month.

Will Stein is Oregon’s new offensive coordinator and play caller after Kenny Dillingham got the head coaching job at his alma mater, Arizona State. Stein comes to Eugene from the University of Texas at San Antonio, where the Road Runners cracked the AP Poll for the first time in program history in 2021, getting as high as No. 15. Last year, UTSA finished 12th in the country in yards per game (476), 13th in passing yards a game (300.4) and 14th in scoring (36.8 pts/game).

Oregon’s 2023 offense boasts impressive backfield talent in returners Bucky Irving and Noah Whittington, and their receiving core is also promising led by returning junior Troy Franklin as well as transfers Traeshon Holden (Alabama), Gary Bryant Jr. (USC), and Tez Johnson (Troy), plus returning junior Kris Hutson.

ESPN also highlights Oregon’s offensive line which will look different from the consistency of previous seasons. Guard Marcus Harper II projects to return as a starter on the interior, with transfers Ajani Cornelius (Rhode Island), Junior Angilau (Texas), and Nishad Strother (East Carolina) figuring into the mix at any number of spots up front. Returning sophomore Josh Conerly Jr. projects to be the starter at left tackle and is a promising young player, a former top-30 national recruit out of the Seattle area in the class of 2022. Senior Stephen Jones and junior Jackson Powers-Johnson also return to the O Line with invaluable game experience and program knowledge.

Hot on Oregon’s heels in the rankings is Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins at No. 14. Their QB battle is one to watch, with returning junior Ethan Garbers duking it out with the nation’s number-one overall recruit in Dante Moore and Kent State transfer Collin Schlee. They also added Ball State transfer running back Carson Steele in the portal and lured tight end Moliki Matavao away from Oregon. Replacing an over four-year starter at quarterback in Dorian Thompson-Robinson won’t be easy, as well as losing running back Zach Charbonnet and offensive linemen Jon Gaines II and Atonio Mafi to the NFL Draft. But Chip has the momentum and the personnel to keep the Bruins exciting on offense even into their move into the Big Ten in 2024.

The string of (current) Pac-12 offenses continues in the next spot in ESPN’s rankings with the Utah Utes at No. 15 thanks to Cam Rising’s return at quarterback along with savvy play caller Andy Ludwig.

The list only stuck with the top-25, and no more Pac-12 offenses made the list, though it is worth considering how high Oregon State would rank if DJ Uiagalelei ends up hitting this year and if freshman Aidan Chiles lives up to the hype he’s already garnering as a 17-year-old in Corvallis.

Check out the full future offensive power rankings from ESPN+ here.

Oregon opens the season on Sat., Sept. 2nd hosting Portland State, part of their early-season kickoff times released earlier this week.

Oregon State opens the following day on Sun., Sept. 3rd visiting San Jose State.