Points of debate

Taylor Rutledge | The Arbiter

ODE: Although the Broncos are close to unbeatable at home, the Ducks bring a completely different type of game to Boise than most do. The team is three deep at running back, and Ed Dickson is arguably the best tight end/athlete in the Pac-10 Conference. Oregon beats teams by spreading them thin, then attacking the holes created. And Oregon has the athletes to attack a very young Bronco defense.

Defensively, Oregon will have to come up with some stops after what Kellen Moore did to them last year. The secondary surrendered big play after play, and that was a defense anchored by All-American Patrick Chung. But I think Oregon has just a little bit more experience and athletes at the skills positions and will overcome the hostile environment of a
Thursday night in Boise.

ARBITER: I don’t believe there is a clear-cut favorite. Both the Ducks and the Broncos are in similar positions in terms of talent in their programs and each have key areas in which they thrive.

Defensively, safety Jeron Johnson consistently puts receivers on edge with his ability to place well timed hits, despite belief among Ducks fans that he played dirty at Autzen last year. He will still play with the same physical game that he always has. If you look at the film from last season there is good argument on his behalf that he was only half a step away during that so-called dirty hit.

ODE: I agree that this game could go either way depending on who shows up. Oregon’s biggest question mark has to be the offensive line with the departure of three linemen to the NFL. The Ducks thrive on the run, and if the line cannot hold their assignments, the entire offense comes to a grinding halt.

But don’t underestimate what the Ducks did to the Broncos in the fourth quarter of last year’s game. They were able to exploit something they saw in BSU’s defense to almost come back to tie the game up. Scoring 19 unanswered points in a quarter is a great feat, and although they still lost, I don’t think Oregon will be as unprepared for the Broncos as last year.

ARBITER: There is no doubt that the Broncos were caught off guard in the fourth. The Ducks were able to bring a new look into the game by burning the redshirt of Darron Thomas, who threw for three touchdowns in the game.

Also, I don’t believe that Jeremiah Masoli will be able to deliver through the air. Oregon tight end Ed Dickson posed problems for the Broncos last year but will very much be a focus for BSU.

ODE: I disagree with you on Masoli not being effective through the air. Oregon’s offense is set up to exploit whatever the defense offers. They do not go to the line with just one set route that each receiver is running. The wide outs have the freedom to take whatever the defense is showing and run the best possible route. Masoli may not have a ton of passing yards, but his completion percentage will be high because the Ducks will work medium to short routes to take chunks of yardage.

I predict the score will be 38-31 Oregon. Both of these teams are known for putting up a ton of points and yards on opponents, and although the defenses will play a key role, they will get beat occasionally. Boise State has a knack for playing in tight games under the spotlight, and I don’t think this will be any different. I expect a late touchdown by Oregon to be the difference.

ARBITER: The final score will be 41-31 Boise State. The Ducks will keep it close through the first half of play and the Broncos will pull away in the second. Masoli will have a tough time moving the ball against a tough passing defense and will have to resort to running the ball. The ground game might be Oregon’s strong point with Blount to accent Masoli’s ability to move outside the pocket but, by the end of the day, the Broncos will prevail with a better all-around offense and defense due to experience on both sides of the ball.

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