Originally Posted by StephenHero
Defense always has the advantage in college football because of the long time frame between regular season and bowls. Giving Nick Saban six weeks to study Oregon's offense is a helluva lot more advantageous than Chip Kelly being given six weeks to study Alabama's defense. Until Oregon holds the best teams they face under 40, I suspect they can't give up their advantage and still beat an SEC champion consistently, who will almost always be tougher, more athletic, and played a far tougher schedule to get ready.
I think UO's defense has been pretty strong throughout the season -- you have to remember that against USC (and today against Cal) they had a lot of injuries in their starting line; hell, today their entire starting defensive line was out. I am a bit worried about Avery Patterson's injury from today's game, but by bowl time a lot of their best defensive players will be back on the field. I mean, it certainly shows that the bench is not really that deep for Oregon, but they do have some good talent and I think by the time the Pac-12 championship comes around, and more of their injured players are back in, we'll get a better sense of how good the defense really is.
Also, while I think it is possible to really blunt Oregon's running game, Mariota is fantastic, very much underrated, and getting better all the time. He has the second highest completion percentage in the league (71%, and closer to 80% over the last four games) -- higher than Klein, Manziel, Barkley, McCarron, etc. He's got more than 8 yards per attempt, he averages more than 6 yards per attempt when rushing. He actually ranks first in the nation in overall QB rating. Oregon has a cornucopia of offensive weapons, and I think people underestimate how difficult it is to guard against all of them in one game.