True Test Still Awaits After Oregon Ducks Dominate In Opener


Contributor, 750 The Game

For a few hours Saturday, the focus was finally on football in Eugene. The move to the Big Ten took a back seat. The Oregon Ducks played in front of the Autzen Stadium faithful. And when the dust settled, Oregon walked away with an 81-7 drubbing of Portland State in which they amassed over 700 yards of total offense.


Fans would agree that the preseason narrative for this year’s team went something like: “I’m fairly confident the offense will be good, but will the defense have improved enough to avoid those disappointing games?”

For one drive on Saturday, the second of the game for the visiting Vikings, the latter part of that question was in doubt. But then Oregon’s defense settled in and ended the game allowing just 200 yards of total offense. 

I know, I know — it was just Portland State. But Oregon allowed seven fewer points than last year’s FCS matchup with Eastern Washington, while scoring 11 more points. Progress? 

We will know more on that front by the time this Saturday rolls around in Lubbock, Texas. That’s when Oregon takes on a Texas Tech team who will be motivated to turn their season around after an upset loss to Wyoming in week one.

Ducks’ new offensive coordinator Will Stein was impressive on Saturday. There were looks and wrinkles to the offense from last year that were well-schemed, well-timed, and well-executed all game long.

When Stein was hired this offseason he talked about wanting to “feed the studs.” In week one, that mission was accomplished. Receivers Troy Franklin and USC transfer Gary Bryant Jr. had seven receptions each for over 100 yards and two touchdowns. Tight ends Terrance Ferguson and Patrick Herbert both got involved. Bucky Irving had 119 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just four carries. Jordan James touched the ball 11 times with a pair of scores and the two freshmen running backs behind him did very well in their first game action. Eleven different Ducks caught passes in the game, showing that depth of weapons is no issue for this Oregon offense. 

Studs: fed. 

The new-look offensive line got off to a good start. Bo Nix could have had a cup of coffee just about every time he dropped back to throw the ball. He was comfortable – as  he should have been – and it showed.

Defensively, Oregon didn’t record a sack against the Vikings. This after a year in which the Ducks’ had a historically bad season getting after opposing quarterbacks. But I’m not worried about the lack of sacks just yet. Pressure was created, and adjustments were made to slow down the QB run after the second drive. Plus, the Vikings ended the game with just 52 passing yards.

Baby steps.

Now Oregon quickly turns their attention to Texas Tech, who are either going to be ticked off or deflated on Saturday in Lubbock. My guess is the former. They gave up a touchdown on 4th and 7 followed by a 2-point conversion to lose to Wyoming on Saturday night–in double overtime. The Red Raiders, a potential Big 12 dark horse contender after a strong 8-5 season in 2022, lost to their Mountain West opponent as 14-point road favorites.

That loss ratchets up the pressure on the Ducks, who now have less to gain with a win and more to lose with a loss against the 0-1 Red Raiders. 

The other thing that’s gone up since Saturday’s week 1 results? 

Confidence that the Ducks can go into a hostile road environment and come back home with a win. 

Spencer McLaughlin is an Oregon Ducks football contributor to 750 The Game. He also hosts the “Locked On Oregon Ducks” and “Locked On Pac-12” podcasts and has work featured throughout the season here.