30 years ago Mario Cristobal was manning the left side of the Miami Hurricane offensive line, mangling the opposition for one of the most famous dynasties in college football history. The U was known for its talent, huge margin of victory, but mostly for its attitude.
Now, he’s patrolling the sidelines for no. 11 Oregon on the opposite end of the country, but has brought along that Miami grit and nastiness to the offensive line - which has permeated to the rest of the team. The Chip Kelly era is dead in Eugene, now the Ducks are winning with attitude.
A characteristic that doesn’t really resonate when you think of the Pac-12.
When you think of the Pac-12, especially since USC has been mediocre, you mostly think “pillow soft pretty league where the b-roll is mostly lovely beaches, campuses, or picturesque mountain shots”. And you’re still right, except for Oregon. Sure they still have 4,001 jersey combinations, and maybe they do recruit with glitz and glam, but once you get on campus you’re met by a hulking head coach that carved out a niche with the nation's best with toughness.
The style of play hasn’t been hampered by the loss of Justin Herbert to the NFL. In fact, he was probably underrated going into the league because of the style at Oregon. Now, Tyler Shough is running the show, and making sure to keep defenses honest enough while his offensive line pounds on the opposition and wears them out throughout the game. Often having them throw the proverbial white towel before the fourth quarter. In their last game against Stanford, the Ducks ran for over 250 yards and four touchdowns, winning the game by 21 and the 2nd half by 14. With a 9.5 spread to cover against Washington State, that will do the trick.
The Dimers simulations agree slightly, with a 53% edge going to Oregon, and a 35-25 predicted outcome.
For a team like Washington State, which cares very little about time of possession, it’s incredibly hard to keep marching back out the defense to face a front like Oregon. When a team can gash you on the ground to the tune of 6.7ypc, like Oregon just did against a traditionally tougher front in Stanford, it’s just unreasonable to expect a single digit game. Last year the Cougars kept it very close, and almost pulled out the win, but Mike Leech is coaching in Mississippi and I don’t see a repeat of fortune.