by Josiah Carreira

The Oregon Ducks came in at No. 7 in the first playoff poll released earlier this week. There is a reasonable path for them to crash the party and become the first PAC-12 team invited to the playoff in two years. However, they do need some help for them to sneak in as one of the top four teams. Let’s dive into six scenarios Duck fans NEED to root for so Oregon can make the playoff.

  • First and foremost, Oregon fans need to root for Utah to finish the season 11-1. The PAC-12 desperately needs the championship game to feature two top-10 teams, both being 11-1, and that’s what they will get if the Ducks and Utes win out. Utah’s path to the championship isn’t too hard – they have home games against UCLA and Colorado – and they travel to Arizona for their last road game of the season. On paper this isn’t a murderers row, but in the PAC-12 anything can happen. Also of note, if USC wins out and Utah drops just one game, USC will represent the south in the PAC-12 championship. Beating a 8-4 USC team will not move the needle nationally for the Ducks and they desperately need a marquee win on their resume.


  • Although the loss to Auburn in the first game of the season still stings some Ducks fans, they need to become HUGE Auburn fans for the last three weeks of the season. Auburn hosts both Georgia and Alabama in the next three weeks, two teams that are above the Ducks in the playoff rankings. A win against Georgia essentially knocks out the Bulldogs as they would have two losses, and a win against Alabama makes the Ducks loss to Auburn even more forgivable to the committee.  This Duck fan says WAR EAGLE for the rest of the season.


  • The biggest threat to the Ducks being left out if they do indeed run the table and finish as a 12-1 conference champion, is a 1-loss SEC team. Specifically, a 1-loss LSU team. The Tigers would be very hard to leave out for the playoff committee if that one loss was a close one to Alabama in Tuscaloosa. That being said, Duck fans need to be rooting for LSU to beat Bama this weekend and hopefully beat them by two touchdowns. Alabama has one of the weakest schedules in the nation and they don’t have a marquee win. If they finish 11-1, they would have no top ten wins and only one win against a ranked team (Auburn). A 12-1 Oregon team with presumably a win over a top-7 team in Utah would get the nod over a 1-loss Bama team that didn’t even win their division. IF the committee did put Bama in over Oregon there would be screams of SEC bias across the nation.


  • Although Oregon and Utah are both ranked ahead of Oklahoma, the Sooners are still very much a threat to jump past both of them if they win out. OU still has 23rd ranked Oklahoma State on their schedule, undefeated and 12th ranked Baylor as well as another potential top 25 win in the Big-12 Championship game. This is important because if they run the table, and do so with some style points, they will have four top 25 wins and that’s something the committee values immensely. Not to mention the fact that Sooners QB Jalen Hurts is one of the front runners for the Heisman Trophy, putting him in the playoff would get a ratings boost. So if you’re an Oregon fan hopefully the Sooners drop one more game along the way.


  • Ducks fans should also root for Ohio State to finish undefeated and blowout the rest of their completion. Ohio State is in the top 3 of both defense and offense efficiency this season and have beaten every opponent they have played by more than two scores. They are clearly the best team in the nation (so far) and Oregon needs them to beat up on the rest of the Big Ten to crush any hope the conference can get two teams in. That means Ohio State blows out 4th ranked Penn State, they crush Michigan like they have for years on end, and then blow out either Minnesota, Iowa, or Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. If Penn State somehow can pull off an upset against Ohio State in a close game and then go on to run the table, it’s not likely the Ducks would get in over a 11-1 Ohio State team with just one close loss to an undefeated team.


  • Clemson losing a game basically eliminates the defending champs.  The ACC is by far the worst conference in the power 5 and if Clemson were to win out they would have ZERO wins over top 25 competition. There’s no chance the committee leaves out an undefeated defending champion (see Florida State in 2015), but if the Tigers somehow dropped a game, Oregon would have a better resume at the end of the season.


For the first time in two years the PAC-12 has a very real shot to crash the party. Oregon or Utah does not need chaos (aka everything listed above) to happen, but just a couple of those things happening as well as both the Utes and Ducks taking care of business would set up a play-in game in the most anticipated PAC-12 Championship ever.

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