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The No. 4 Oregon Ducks play host to the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles on Saturday, looking to make a statement to the Pac-12 and the rest of the FBS.
Despite the loss of safety John Boyett and starting guard Carson York to season ending injuries, the Ducks have to keep moving forward as they look to make a BCS bowl game this season. The Golden Eagles could be in for a handful come Saturday, especially with running back Kenjon Barner, who has already amassed 267 rushing yards and five touchdowns after two games this season.
Here's what you need to know:
Location: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
Time: Noon PT, Saturday, Sept. 15
TV Coverage: Pac-12 Network
Radio Coverage: Sirius 92
For more on the Oregon Ducks, make sure to check out Addicted to Quack. For more on the Pac-12 check out Pacific Takes, and for more on college football in general check out SB Nation's dedicated college football hub.
The Ducks were among a bit of shuffling at the top of the poll as the Alabama Crimson Tide moved up from No. 2 to No. 1, the USC Trojans moved from No. 3 to No. 2 and the LSU Tigers dropped from No. 1 to No. 3, even though all three teams won in convincing fashion. The difference was the Trojans and Tigers basically won tune-up games while the Crimson Tide blew out then-No. 8 Michigan.
The Crimson Tide earned 37 first-place votes while the Trojans (14), Tigers (7) and Ducks (1) all received votes as well.
The only other Pac-12 team ranked is No. 21 Stanford.
The Oregon Ducks are ranked the No. 4 team in the country in the first regular season Associated Press college football poll of the season after defeating Arkansas State, 57-34, on Saturday.
The Ducks moved up one spot, overtaking the Oklahoma Sooners for No. 4 as the Ducks' victory over Arkansas State, the Sun Belt conference champion, was seen as more impressive than the Sooners struggling with UTEP, 24-7. The Ducks' ranking is the highest the Ducks have ever been at this point in the regular season.
In a season predicted to be dominated by the SEC and Pac-12, both conferences represent the top four teams in the country. The only other team ranked from the Pac-12 is No. 25 Stanford. Every team in the rankings was ranked previously except for Notre Dame, which came in at No. 22. The Fighting Irish replaced Boise State, which fell out of the rankings.
The Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies could both move up the rankings when the new AP and Coaches' polls are released after the Labor Day weekend. Both teams picked up season-opening wins that may have not been the most impressive, but they were wins and some teams in front of them struggled over the weekend.
Oregon put a 57-34 beatdown on Arkansas St., a score that looks a lot closer than it was. The Ducks jumped out early and led 50-3 in the second quarter before taking their foot off the gas pedal. And vitally important when it comes to voters, they dominated early in a game that started at 10:30 p.m. on the east coast so many voters probably went to sleep after Oregon put on their early show.
Earlier in the day, Oklahoma had an unimpressive game versus UTEP. The Sooners won 24-7, but it was 7-7 at halftime and Oklahoma never really got into a rhythm. With the Sooners only just barely ahead of the Ducks in the polls as is, Oregon could very well jump Oklahoma for fourth in the national rankings.
Further up north, Washington beat San Diego St. 21-12. It wasn't the offensive show that some thought the Huskies would put on, but it was a massive improvement on the defensive side of the ball, where they were awful a year ago.
While the Huskies didn't wow anybody, they did get a win, which is something that Boise St. can't say. Florida also just barely managed to squeak past Bowling Green. With Washington just barely on the outside of the rankings looking in, they could jump the Broncos and Gators to get into the top 25 this week.
Though the score line might lead some to believe that the Arkansas State Red Wolves hung in late Saturday night against the Oregon Ducks, the Ducks had the game wrapped up early after an efficient and strong open to the game.
In a game in which everyone knew Oregon would win, Mariota was the clear storyline. A redshirt freshman having just won a quarterback battle against a veteran is always going to draw major attention. Mariota showed everybody why he won the job, delivering a performance that will serve as football porn to Duck fans for the next week
The electric duo of running backs Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, along with the rest of the offense, also proved key to putting the game away early, but it was the first-string defense that proved key early.
Not to be ignored, Oregon's starting defense was pretty stellar as well. On Arkansas State's first seven drives, they only managed a single field goal, that they had to string together 12 plays for. In the other six possessions, the Red Wolves had three three and outs, two first downs, and a turnover.
By the end of the first half, University of Oregon's redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota had built a big enough cushion that he and most of his first-team could take the rest of the night off; the score was 50-10, Oregon. At that point, the question on everyone's mind wasn't who was going to win, it was 'by how much'? Arkansas State held Oregon to only seven-points in the second half. The Red Wolves offense would chip away at Oregon's massive lead, but fell short at 57-34
Fans expect a high score when it comes to the Oregon Ducks. In the first quarter they scored 29-points followed up by a 21-point second quarter. Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is a good guy and he abides by the unspoken rule (except for Bill Belechik) to pull your starters out of the game when blowing out the other team. Oregon's second unit, surprisingly, couldn't score, save one touchdown in the fourth quarter. They also couldn't hold back the Red Wolves as they made their surge in the second half. Should Oregon's first string stay healthy, they've got a good shot at taking a run at USC in the Pac-12; if not, they might need to be concerned about their replacements.
On a fashion note, the Ducks debuted their new Nike uniforms tonight to mixed reviews.
Box Score Hero: Oregon redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota went 19-for-23 for 216 yards and 3 TD's - in the first half, the only half he played.
Rankings Ramifications: Arkansas State isn't a powerhouse football school, so it doesn't impact Oregon in the AP polls. Oregon is known for its high scoring games. The fact that they let Arkansas get within 23 won't really matter.
But Did They Cover? Mayweather should have put his $3M on Arkansas State at +37.
For More On This Game:
Next Week's Schedule: Arkansas State heads home to take on the Memphis Tigers, September 8th at 7:00 p.m. ET. On the same day, Oregon welcomes the Fresno State Bulldogs to their home at 6:30 p.m. ET.
The Oregon Ducks will begin their quest for a Pac-12 and national championship on Saturday as they welcome in Arkansas State. The Ducks enter as heavy favorites over the Red Wolves, and most feel UO's speed will simply be too much for coach Gus Malzahn's team to handle.
Our fantastic Oregon blog, Addicted To Quack, released a video that recapped the week's earlier games, previewing a couple of the Pac-12 games this weekend and also took a look at tonight's Oregon game. Here it is.
Kickoff from Autzen Stadium is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. locally. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN and also streamed online through the WatchESPN platform. Check with your local cable provider for access in your neck of the woods.
The college football season got underway Thursday night, and the Oregon Ducks will begin their 2012 campaign Saturday, Sept. 1 with a 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT matchup against the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
After winning the Pac-12 and the Rose Bowl last season, Oregon enters 2012 with high hopes once again despite the departure of starting quarterback Darron Thomas, who chose to forgo his senior season and enter the 2012 NFL Draft. Thomas has still not signed with an NFL team. Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota, who won the job over sophomore Bryan Bennett, will be tasked with replacing Thomas. There were rumors that Bennett would seek to transfer after losing the job, but he was convinced to stay after meeting with head coach Chip Kelly.
Arkansas State, meanwhile, is coming off an impressive season in the Sun Belt Conference. The Red Wolves finished 10-3 in coach Hugh Freeze's first season at the helm and won their conference title before losing to Northern Illinois, 38-20, in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Here's all the info on Saturday's matchup:
Who: Arkansas State (0-0, Sun Belt Conference) at No. 5 Oregon (0-0, Pacific 12 Conference).
When: Saturday, Sept. 1. 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.
Where: Autzen Stadium, University of Oregon.
Point Spread: Oregon by 37.
Video: 2012 Oregon season preview.
Oregon 2012 Football Preview and Schedule (via sbnation)
In 2011 Oregon coach Chip Kelly led the Ducks to heights they haven't seen in nearly 100 years, notching the program's first Rose Bowl win since 1917. In 2012, the Ducks could be in position to exceed last season's success.
Bryan Bennett is staying at Oregon. After a day of hand-wringing, the crisis has been averted in Eugene. Adam Jude tweets that Bennett has decided to remain a Duck.
Bryan Bennett now telling Oregon people he is staying "for sure," The Oregonian has learned.— Adam Jude (@A_Jude) August 29, 2012
There were rumors floating around that Bennett might transfer out of Oregon today after losing the starting quarterback position to Marcus Mariota, but apparently after a meeting with Oregon head coach Chip Kelly he was convinced to stay. Without Bennett, Oregon would be severely depleted at the quarterback position, and would probably only be left with Mariota with any decent experience up front.
With both Mariota and Bennett, Oregon should be fairly alright at quarterback this season, and Kelly should be more comfortable in letting the offensive flow without worrying about his starting QB getting injured. Oregon should feel a bit stronger about their national championship and Pac-12 title hopes with two players of this quality.
Bryan Bennett might not be leaving Oregon after all.. After rumors circulated that Bennett might be considering a transfer, it's starting to look like it's a possibility he'll stick around.
Bryan Bennett is now likely staying at Oregon, sources tell— Adam Jude (@A_Jude) August 28, 2012
@aaronjfentress and me.
Bennett was considered one of the favorites to land the starting job for the Ducks after the season ended. Some would say he was the prohibitive favorite after some strong performances last season in relief of starting quarterback Darron Thomas. Bennett helped lead Oregon to victories over Arizona State and Colorado without much trouble last season.
But Bennett has struggled this offseason, and was outplayed in the spring game by Marcus Mariota. Mariota apparently kept up his progress during fall camp, and won the starting job a few days ago. Bennett is the de facto backup, but apparently he felt dissatisfied at the thought originally and the original transfer rumors leaked.
It appears Chip Kelly really smoothed Bennett over to the thought of being the next man off the bench.
Chip Kelly and his Oregon Ducks begin the season against Gus Mahlzahn and the Arkansas State Red Wolves on Saturday.