Mario Cristobal has been chasing that elusive playoff berth ever since he took over in Eugene three years ago. He was expecting to be a key member of Willie Taggart’s coaching staff in 2017 but he left for the Florida State job at the end of the year and Cristobal was given the title of “interim head coach” which he turned into a full-time job in the offseason.
Players began to flock to Eugene as the one-time national recruiter of the year reeling in top classes nationally, leading up to the No. 6 group in the nation in 2021.
With the latest recruiting class all sewn up (maybe one more coming with five-star JT Tuimoloau still mulling his options), Oregon has the most talented roster in school history ready to take the field for the 2021 season.
About a dozen of the top all-time signees will be on the roster heading into the 2021 season and if all goes as planned, they will each have major impacts while cracking the two-deep.
Fresh off back-to-back Pac-12 titles, Oregon is close to a playoff berth than people think.
Oregon football looking like a top-five team for 2021
To begin the season, there’s a good chance Oregon is going to be ranked somewhere in the 10-15 range and you can bet that there will be publications listing the Ducks in the 15-25 range.
Is it because the Ducks were just 4-3 last season despite winning the Pac-12 title? Sure, they beat USC in the conference championship but they were dismantled by Iowa State in the Fiesta Bowl. But people seem to forget that the COVID-19 year was rough on many teams — especially those in the Pac-12 which got essentially one month of regular-season action.
When Oregon had a full season the year prior, it went 12-2 with a conference title and Rose Bowl berth. In Cristobal’s first full season in 2018, the Ducks were 9-4 with a Redbox Bowl win. This team is getting better every season and we can just throw the non-conference games out the window in the COVID-19 year because the Pac-12 was at a disadvantage.
Oregon is fresh off two straight Pac-12 titles, a Rose Bowl berth, Fiesta Bowl berth, and Cristobal is bringing in his best recruiting class yet while returning a wealth of talent on both sides of the ball.
The Ducks will field one of the best backfields, receiving corps, linebacking units, and defensive backfields in the country along with arguably the defender with the best shot at contending for a Heisman Trophy in Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Oregon is going to be the Pac-12 title favorite yet again and if the Ducks can run the table in conference play (very possible) or maybe lose just one game in the regular season, they will be right there in the top-five with a win-or-go-home opportunity in the league championship.
This year is Oregon’s best shot at a playoff berth since Mark Helfrich’s squad made it back in 2014 before losing to Ohio State.
Don’t look now, Oregon fans, but 2021 could be a special year.