A Pac-12 Conference championship, a single-season program record for wins and the Heisman Trophy; the only thing that eluded the Oregon Ducks in their dream, 2014 season was a national championship.
Marcus Mariota may have changed his mailing address from Eugene to Nashville, but the 2015 Oregon Ducks will flourish without him. The question facing them is if they can return to the College Football Playoff — a question difficult to answer, given the strength of their schedule.
I did my best to answer it for Athlon Sports, breaking down the reasons why Oregon will return to college football’s championship tournament and the biggest concerns standing behind the Ducks and a championship.
With Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner in the backfield, and arguably the nation’s best wide receiving corps, defenses will still be hard-pressed to slow down the Oregon Ducks. Between Michigan State in Week 2, road games at Stanford and Arizona State, and a late-season showdown in Autzen Stadium with USC, Oregon plays one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
Should the Ducks return to the Playoff, they’ll be truly battle-tested.
Jesse Lawrence, Forbes
Despite last season’s meltdown midway through, there’s still high demand to wake up the echoes under the watchful eyes of Touchdown Jesus. Jesse Lawrence of Forbes reports Notre Dame has the nation’s most expensive tickets on average in the coming campaign.
The Irish’s loyal fan base helps fuel the demand for tickets, certainly, but it also doesn’t hurt that Notre Dame hosts marquee games with Texas, Georgia Tech and USC visiting South Bend. There’s also something to be said for entering one of college football’s hallowed grounds.
Notre Dame Stadium is likely on most fans’ bucket list — it’s certainly on mine — much in the same fashion Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are must-visits for baseball fans.
Speaking of Fenway Park, the Fighting Irish play Boston College there in November.
— ND Tickets (@NDTicketsNow) July 22, 2015
Standing out can be a challenge for the Northeast Conference, one of the less recognized FCS leagues. Credit the NEC, then, for hosting a media day event — the conference’s first-ever — Thursday in unique fashion.
The event at MetLife Stadium was a social media extravaganza, as the Associated Press reports, with the preseason media picks and All-Conference selections revealed in real-time.
Media day isn’t the only first in the NEC’s 2015 season, if Thursday’s vote is any indication. Pollsters project Bryant to win the NEC championship and reach the FCS Playoffs for the first time in program history.
Bryant’s knocked on the door a few times in the last half-decade, including last season when the Bulldogs were undefeated in conference play with just two weeks remaining. Losses in their final time dropped them to third behind co-champions Wagner and Sacred Heart, the latter of which went to the Playoffs.
Joe Lucia, Awful Announcing
With color commentator Charles Davis moving to NFL coverage, Joel Klatt is being promoted to the No. 1 spot on Fox’s college football broadcasts. Klatt joins Gus Johnson on the network’s national, network broadcasts.
Davis was solid in that role, but this is a well-deserved opportunity for Klatt. The former Colorado Buffaloes quarterback was excellent on Fox Sports 1’s Thursday night telecasts last season working alongside Tim Brando.