Oregon teams face statement games on the upset trail in Michigan – Los Angeles Times
It is too early to suggest there are do-or-die stakes in key games being played this weekend.
The state of Oregon is looking to bring the lumber to the state of Michigan in two near-transcontinental games of interest.
It is an odd quirk of Saturday scheduling that Oregon State will be playing at Michigan the same day Oregon is playing at Michigan State.
The kickoff times are spaced apart so officials from the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences, and a few writers, can attend both games.
The Oregon Territory was created in 1848 and became the 33rd state on Feb. 14, 1859. Oregon is a terrific, sometimes soggy state, famous for its “Trail” and the fact it still has no self-service gas stations. Oregon would be proud if you knew it is home to Phil Knight, the legend of Steve Prefontaine and Matt Groening of the “The Simpsons.”
It might skip over the part about Tonya Harding’s 1970 birth in Portland.
Michigan was admitted as the 26th state in 1837. It is the auto capitol of the world and home to Kate Upton, Stevie Wonder, Madonna and Bob Seger.
George Armstrong Custer was born in Ohio but raised in Michigan; he led his brigade of “Wolverines” in the Civil War. Later, at Little Bighorn in 1876, he suffered the worst defeat in Big Ten history.
Oregon State at Michigan is interesting for different reasons than Oregon at Michigan State.
The “warmup act” in Ann Arbor has no real impact on the College Football Playoff, but marks the very important home debut of Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh.
The most interesting man in college football began his era with a hard-fought loss at Utah on Sept. 3. Harbaugh was calm and resolute in defeat, encouraging and positive. He knows his program is in better shape than Stanford was in his first year there, but far worse shape than his first San Francisco 49ers team.
It might raise a few cackles, though, if Michigan doesn’t easily handle an Oregon State team breaking in a new coach (Gary Andersen), quarterback and nine new starters on defense.
The Beavers, with only 13 seniors, are the youngest team in the Pac-12. They played 16 freshmen in last week’s win over Weber State. Lost in the hoopla over UCLA’s Josh Rosen was the true freshman debut of Oregon State quarterback Seth Collins, who ran for 152 yards and tossed two touchdown passes.
The prime-time matchup between Oregon and Michigan State is a top-10 rematch of last year’s game in Eugene. A lot of power programs are afraid to play these home-and-home exchanges because the price of defeat can be heavy.
Oregon won by 19 last year in a game that was much closer than the final score. It is fact that the Ducks would not have won without the singular effort of superstar quarterback Marcus Mariota, who launched his Heisman Trophy-winning campaign in Autzen that early-September day.
Michigan State seemingly has the advantage this year, with returning quarterback Connor Cook leading the Spartans.
This will be a big first test for Oregon’s fifth-year transfer quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who helped the Ducks generate 731 total yards against Eastern Washington.
Adams has been compared to Russell Wilson, a fifth-year transfer who led Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl.
“I do see the similarities,” Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio said this week.
Alarm bells have already sounded on Oregon’s defense, though, after it allowed 549 yards and 42 points to a lower-division school.
“We need to tackle better,” Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich said in an understatement.
Also worth a look: Oklahoma at Tennessee. The Big 12 is looking to poke a hole in the tire of the SEC, which put 10 teams in this week’s Associated Press poll.
The SEC could turn insufferable before the official end of summer if a young Tennessee team can take down one of the Big 12’s flagship programs. Oklahoma won last September in Norman, 34-10.