1. Playing down to opponents continues to be an issue
Oregon began the season with a home game against Fresno State that no one really expected to be close, but Jake Haener and the Bulldogs’ elite passing offense kept things close and even held a late lead before Anthony Brown put them away with a touchdown run. Oregon was clearly the more talented team playing at home, but they let Fresno State hang around too long.
The next week, the Ducks went out and beat Ohio State on the road to make a statement.
How’d they follow that up? With a 48-7 home win over Stony Brook, but the final score doesn’t tell the story of how close the first half was. The Ducks only led by 10 against Stony Brook, playing down to yet another opponent for 30 minutes.
Oregon hosted Arizona the following week, but the score was just 24-19 heading into the fourth quarter against the worst team in the Pac-12. The Ducks played down to the Wildcats’ level for three quarters before finally pulling away.
They did the same the following week against Stanford which led to an upset loss on the road.
And finally, it happened again on Friday night, trailing a 1-4 Cal team 17-10 in the fourth quarter before scoring the final two touchdowns to win the game — but not before the Golden Bears had a chance to tie it up with no time remaining on a fourth-and-goal situation.
Playing down to opponents continues to be an issue and if Mario Cristobal doesn’t address this, the playoff aspirations will cease to exist.