Fresno State-Oregon: Can the Dogs Beat the Ducks?
The Ducks opened the season with two impressive wins. While they struggled in the first half against Houston, the Ducks were able to use their running game to blow out the Cougars in the end. This past Saturday the Ducks blew out a Michigan team in Ann Arbor that I do not feel is truly that strong. I understand that Oregon runs a very diverse offense in which they allow their QB to do pretty much whatever he wants to. I understand that Dixon is one of the better schoolyard QB's in the college football game today, but the win over Michigan does not tell me that Oregon is going to wipe the Dogs off the field. Last season Oregon started out very strong early on as well as they began the season 4-0. I don't know if this is the same type of team this year around, but once again the Ducks have begun the season hot and Fresno State will have to figure out how to shut down the option offense that Oregon likes to run if they want to win this game. The one positive is that Fresno State knows Oregon well. Fresno State has played Oregon so many times over the past seven years that they mine as well call each other's plays out before they run them. The Dogs will not be surprised by the Ducks speed or their option running game as they have seen plenty of both to know exactly what to expect.
Saturday Fresno State showed us that they have gone from a slow team who could not tackle in 2006 to a speedy team who has learned how to hit and wrap up offensive players on the outside. Oregon has the outside speed that Goodsen had for TAMU and if Fresno State's corners can wrap up the Ducks RB's this will be a very competitive game. Fresno State is going to have to be able to recuperate from it's tough loss to A&M and face another top 25 team in Oregon but this team seems to have the desire and heart to get on the field and get the job done. At the same time the Dogs main cog in the defensive line will be back on the field when Shirley is welcomed back to the team. The Dogs sorely missed Shirley on the field this past Saturday as he could have been the fix for Jovorski Lane rushing up the middle of the field. While Oregon does not have the power run game that TAMU showed us, Oregon will be faster and throws the ball far better than A&M did. Dixon is not the most consistent passer when it comes to underneath or intermediate routes, but he has a great arm on the deep ball and Fresno State will have to compensate for that with great corner play throughout the game.
My main question for this blog focuses on if the Dogs can indeed upset the Ducks and I honestly think it is within our team to do so. The Dogs seem to have the tools on both offense and defense to be able to go into Eugene and knock the Ducks off. Whether they do that or not will come down to execution and how the Dogs regroup after their hard fought loss at A&M. In the past we all know the Dogs have not responded to tough luck losses well (think back to USC in 2005 and Oregon in 2006). This year the team seems far more confident that they can get the job done than they have in the past. There is a lot of youth on this team and because of that the Dogs seem content to be on the field giving their all every single week. This is not the type of team that will sit back and rest on what has happened in the past. Instead this is a team that looks as if it can turn the page and make every week an exciting football week. Fresno State will challenge Oregon. Fresno State will not lose to the Ducks by sixteen this week as the betting line suggests. Instead I am willing to bet that this game will once again come down to the final two minutes with either the Ducks or Dogs in the lead and the opposite team driving for the win. Let's just hope the refs don't have a say in this one for either team because what I have learned is it is better to let the players decide who is the better team. Fresno State and Oregon have given us some great games in the past and I see absolutely no reason why the next game in the series will be any different.
Note - The rest of the week will be dedicated to comparing what each team has on offense, defense, and special teams. This should be a very good game. Hopefully the Dogs will come out on top in the end.