Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/14/14

Oregon is off to a hot start, but are they a true national title contender? Photo: USA Today Sports We’ve seen this movie before. In each of the past three seasons, Oregon has jumped out to a blazing start in September, beating mediocre opponents to a pulp with ease. Every year, we fall in love with the Ducks for this, falling for the illusion that those 45-point (or more) blowouts mean they are national championship material. It’s happening again this year. Chip Kelly is gone, but Mark Helfrich has the Ducks moving ahead without skipping a beat. Through September, they’ve pasted Nicholls State (who won exactly one game in FCS play in 2012), Virginia (one of the three or four worst teams in the ACC), Tennessee (arguably the worst team in the SEC), and Cal (who sits firmly in the bottom half of the Pac-12). Talk about a gauntlet. Face it: Oregon has done nothing so far to prove it is one of the three best teams in the country. Alabama, Clemson and Georgia have. Oregon bakes its bread with speed, speed and more speed. Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas are the lightning rods of an offense that executes its playbook to perfection. There’s one important trump card that a select group of teams can use against the Ducks: elite size and speed along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Since 2010, the Ducks are 35-0 against unranked teams. They are 5-4 against the AP Top 25. Those four losses came against Auburn, LSU, Stanford and USC. What did those four teams have in common? They all had an ability to impose their will at the point of attack and control the line of scrimmage. If Oregon is able to get the ball to the second level of the defense, forget about it. No one is stopping the Ducks’ skill players in space. There are maybe 10 teams in the country that can corral Oregon’s playmakers before they break loose and dance their way into the end zone. Don’t get me wrong, there is no stopping Oregon. But containing them is entirely possible for the most elite teams. Oregon’s remaining schedule includes a home date with UCLA in addition to road trips to Washington and Stanford. Of those three teams, only the Cardinal has the ability to control the box against the Ducks. An Oregon win over Stanford en route to an unbeaten season would be enough to earn them a spot in the BCS Championship Game. There’s no denying that. But even if the Ducks get to Pasadena, they will almost certainly face the SEC Champion (there’s an outside chance that Clemson could take the other spot, but the Tigers are essentially an SEC team across the board anyway). Even in a “down” year, Alabama, Georgia or LSU’s defensive line would outclass Oregon’s offensive front. Any of those three team’s offensive lines would certainly punish Oregon’s defensive front. In Oregon’s 40 wins since 2010, it has scored 51.3 points per game. In those four losses, they averaged 23.8. It is entirely possible to slow down the Ducks. And there are teams who can do it. Would Alabama, Georgia, or LSU beat Oregon 100 times out of 100? Of course not. But the scales do tip in their favor. Until Oregon proves it can go toe-to-toe with the best the SEC has to offer and actually come out on top, let’s remember who has earned the rights to be kings of college football and give them their due. Follow Crystal Ball Run on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to The Crystal Ball Run Newsletter.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tiger misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate during presser

Rex Ryan: Seahawks need to ‘take the air out of the football’

J.J. Watt buys cabin in the middle of nowhere to train

Six teams have done background work on Peterson

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

NBA set to earn $700M through streaming deal in China

Wade Phillips is the best coordinator hire this offseason

Bill Belichick gives understated scouting report of Tom Brady

Five teams that failed to improve this offseason

Steelers fans were more profane on social media

Seahawks praise Tom Brady's trash-talking ability

Super Bowl ad focuses on acceptance of gay athletes

Foster says UT boosters paid him $40-50K while in college

Ranking the repeat Super Bowl champions

Eric Decker to Sherman: Time your conception a little better

Could Katy Perry and Russell Wilson be dating?

The Media isn't the villain we deserve, but it's the one we need

Are LeBron and the Cavs ready to make a run?

The Super Bowl and the things that can't be controlled

DeMarcus Cousins calls out writer for five-year-old tweet

What if Drew Bledsoe didn't get injured in 2001?

Who should make up the 2015 Hall of Fame class

WATCH: Porn sounds played during Predators broadcast

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Tiger Woods, misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Ranking the repeat SB champions

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate

Katy Perry, Russell Wilson dating?

Rex Ryan has advice for Seahawks

Super Bowl: Things you can't control

LeBron and the Cavs are ready to make a run

Cousins calls out writer's old tweet

Seahawks praise Brady's trash-talk

Who should be in 2015 HOF class

Rex Ryan downplays Deflategate

Brady hopes Manning comes back

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.