Oregon No.11 Has High Expectations In Pac-12

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Oregon coach Mario Cristobal knows his Ducks enter the new season with the burden of outside expectations. However, he focuses on the goals he set for himself instead of what others say.

While the 11th-ranked Ducks are expected to win their third straight Pac-12 championship, he still wants his players to have the spirit that they are the hunters, not the hunters.

“I will never see us and we will never see ourselves as a program with a target on us, a target on us. It has never been like that, it will never be like that, ”said Cristobal. “When we wake up in the morning our feet hit the ground, we wake up with a hunger, a motivation, a determination to make sure that we are still a humble and determined hunter. All the other stuff, the fluff and the predictions, it doesn’t fit into our diet, our structure, our DNA, our mindset.

Oregon is stacked in most positions and has two of the best defensive players in the conference – defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and linebacker Noah Sewell, but the quarterback remains a question. Anthony Brown, who started 28 games at Boston College, transferred to Oregon last year but sat behind starter Tyler Shough until he played in the Pac-12 Championship Game and the Fiesta. Bowl.

Shough has transferred to Texas Tech, which means Brown could be the third different signalman from the Ducks to win a championship. Justin Herbert led the Ducks to a Rose Bowl victory in 2019.

Oregon could help the Pac-12’s chances of qualifying for the college football playoffs for the first time since 2016 with a No.4 loss to Ohio State on Sept. 11 in Columbus. The Pac-12 has four other teams ranked in the Pre-Season Top 25 AP – No.15 Southern California, No.20 Washington, No.24 Utah and No.25 Arizona State – but must perform better in its renowned non-conference games.

THE HEAT IS ON

USC sporting director Mike Bohn gave Clay Helton a vote of confidence last week, but if Helton is to see a full seventh season at the top of the schedule, he must at least bring the Trojans back to the title game. of the conference.

Trojans are stacked at skill posts, including quarterback Kedon Slovis and wide receiver Drake London. They also have a favorable schedule which includes a road game at No.9 Notre Dame, but does not include Oregon or Washington.

“Our job right now is to come back to this championship game and win this game because we know when we win this game it opens the doors to playoffs and national championship opportunities,” Helton said.

BIGGEST QUESTIONS

Arizona State returns all 11 defensive and nine attacking starters, including quarterback Jayden Daniels. Normally, this type of talent would make the Sun Devils the preseason pick for the South Division, but they are under NCAA investigation for illegal recruiting practices and have three assistant coaches on paid leave.

IS THE SOUTH Rising?

Since the Pac-12 grew to two divisions in 2011, the North division has won all but one conference title and was home to the only two teams in the league that made it to the college football playoffs. While Oregon is expected to triple and maintain the North’s dominance, the South has four of the top six teams in the conference.

Besides USC and Arizona State, Utah and UCLA could factor in the conference run, as both dismiss the majority of their starters.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Thibodeaux: The junior was the only unanimous selection on the preseason All-Conference squad as well as the only conference first-team representative on the Associated Press’s preseason All-America squad.

London: Juniors should be Slovis’ first target after Amun-Ra St. Brown leaves. London led the Trojans in receiving yards with 502 last season and had eight touchdowns in his two years as a starter.

Utah LB Devin Lloyd: The senior has led the team in tackles the past two seasons. His 10 solo tackles for losses last season finished second in the conference.

UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson: The senior has started 28 games in the past three years. He’s improved every season and became the Bruins’ first quarterback to throw over 300 yards and run over 100 yards in the same game in last year’s opener at Colorado.

Colorado RB Jarek Broussard: The sophomore amassed 895 yards in six games and was conference offensive player of the year last season.

CHOICE

North: Oregon, Washington, California, Stanford, Oregon State, Washington State.

West: USC, Utah, State of Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, Arizona.

Champion: Oregon

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More AP College Football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25



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