Free NCAA Football Picks: Oregon is a Legitimate Pac-12 Title Contender

Sep 8, 2017

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Free NCAA Football Picks: Look Out for Oregon in 2017

The Ducks are one of the most improved teams in college football this season.  Oregon welcomes back seventeen starters, including quarterback Justin Herbert and running back Royce Freeman.

Freeman is one of the best running backs in the nation and is just 875 yards away from becoming the program’s all-time leading rusher. Oregon possesses exceptional depth in the backfield as its top four rushers from last season return in 2017 (combined for 6.3 yards per carry last year).

Herbert threw for 1,936 yards with a 63.5% completion rate as a freshman (4 interceptions on 255 passes) and is a perfect fit for Taggert’s offensive scheme. The Ducks also possess one of the Pac-12 Conference’s best offensive lines with 77 career starts returning.

Taggart hired outstanding coordinators in Jim Leavitt (defense) and Mario Cristobal (offense), signed a top-20 recruiting class and takes the field with one of the most experienced teams in the nation. Oregon’s defense welcomes back five of its top seven linemen, five of six linebackers and its top five defensive backs.

That experience combined with one of the best defensive minds in football should make Oregon’s stop unit one of the most improved in 2017. Leavitt’s defenses at Colorado excelled in the red zone and completely shut down opposing quarterbacks.

Oregon will also field a top 25 special team’s unit under coordinator Raymond Woodie.  The Ducks are flying under the radar in 2017 and are legitimate Pac-12 Conference Title contenders.

Free NCAA Football Picks: Saturday, September 9, 2017

Oregon will be wearing uniforms and sideline great designed by three cancer survivors – Sophia Malinoski, 10, Ethan Frank, 13, and Joe MacDonald, 14 – from the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.

The gear will include inspiring graphics and motivational slogans that are personal to the three survivors. “When we get suited up and put everything on, we’re going to be representing more than just the University of Oregon,” said offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby.

Emotions will be running high when the three cancer survivors take the field with the Ducks on Saturday. “Seeing what they created and especially with all they’ve been through, being out on the field with the Oregon Ducks will mean a lot to them and a lot of people in the stands, too,” Oregon running back Royce Freeman said.

Oregon cornerback Arrion Springs said Saturday’s game and message mean a little bit more to him because his mother, Tammy Hardin, was diagnosed with breast cancer before last season. “I try not to make it personal, but I do have ties to it. I understand their fight,” Springs said.

Oregon head coach Willie Taggart lost his father to cancer in August, while linebacker Troy Dye’s aunt passed away six years ago after her fight with breast cancer. “This is a big-time game, not only for us but for the community because of what it represents and what it means to everybody,” Dye said.

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