Can Ducks beat the spread?

Oregon's line to beat UCLA has blossomed to 17
By Cliff Pfenning,

One of the biggest questions for University of Oregon football fans heading into this weekend's game with UCLA probably isn't whether the Ducks can beat the Bruins at Autzen Stadium, but can they beat them by 17 or more points?

And, that's just Friday morning.

The betting line for the Oregon win in Saturday's 12:30 p.m. game on ESPN2 was 13.5 at the start of the week, but it's grown by more than a field goal since. Oregon enters the game at 2-0 and ranked No. 11, while UCLA is 1-1 and unranked.

Oregon is coming off a 43-29 win over Washington State, and won its season-opener 35-14 over Stanford.

UCLA lost 48-42 at Colorado in its opener, then throttled Cal 34-10 on Sunday in a game that was invented after it's scheduled game Friday with Utah was cancelled due to Covid the day before. So, UCLA had just two days to prepare for the Bears, who had their game with Arizona State wiped out to Covid, too.

Obviously, those in the know and with money in hand that says they know what's what, think the Ducks are set to throttle the Bruins and continue their march to the College Football Playoffs.

There is plenty of concern, though, for those who've watched Oregon's two wins, which have concluded with the team having five more turnovers on their side that the opposition's side. Were it not for Stanford's four missed field goals, and that incredibly blown coverage at the end of the first half of the Washington State game, the outcome of both wins might have been drastically different.

It's not hard to think the Ducks could fairly easily be 0-2 entering Saturday's game.

Probably the best thing for fans entering the weekend is that the Ducks won, they simply won regardless of the point outcome. That's the most promising sign for a team of destiny - winning the crappy games. Far too often in the past five years, Oregon has lost those games, and to those specific teams: Stanford and WSU. Who doesn't remember first-and-goal at the one against Stanford and the snap three feet over Justin Herbert's head that turned into a 99-yard fumble return? And, then a loss.

Oregon has played like an Aloha Bowl team for much of its two wins. If Stanford had made all four of its field goals, the Cardinal would have been trailing just 28-26 in the fourth quarter. But, the Ducks also missed a field goal, so there's also points that don't show.

And, Oregon trailed 19-7 with 20 seconds left in the first half against WSU when quarterback Tyler Shough hooked up with wideout Jaylon Redd for a 57-yard pass to the WSU 3. CJ Verdell promptly ran for a short touchdown and that bumped the score to 19-14.

Oregon got the second-half kickoff and drove down the field for a touchdown and a 21-19 lead ... oh wait, the Ducks drove to the WSU 19, but missed a field goal.

The next four drives, though, were touchdowns, and it's that string of scores that likely is still resting in bettors' heads.

UCLA's win Sunday included an impressive stretch of four touchdowns on five drives. But, that was in the first half, which ended 27-10. In the second half the Bruins had one touchdown, two punts and two turnovers on downs. Their second half went the opposite of Oregon's.

So, the line was 17 on Friday. Morning. Can Oregon beat UCLA by 18? Maybe they'll have to win by more by the time kickoff arrives.



Oregonian women's hoop has national respect

Oregon, OSU, even Portland are expected to perform well
By Cliff Pfenning,

As another season of college basketball approaches, women's teams from across Oregon have turned into psuedo powerhouses - now including the University of Portland.

After winning the West Coast Conference tournament last season with a core of underclass players, the Pilots were picked to finish third in the regular season which begins Dec. 28.

Oregon and Oregon State are not only picked to compete for the Pac-12 Conference title, but are among the Top 20 in the nation.

The Ducks and Beavers have not released their season-opening dates.

Oregon was 31-2 and had won the conference title when the college season came to an abrupt end last year. The Ducks graduated the top pick and No. 3 pick as well in the WNBA Draft. But, the returning crew is stacked enough to warrant a No. 10 ranking by ESPN.

Oregon State enters the season ranked No. 18 in the same poll.

Stanford, No. 2, Arizona, No. 7, and UCLA, No. 9, give the Pac-12 a ton of national respect.

Gonzaga, which won the WCC regular-season title last season, begins the year ranked No. 21.

Portland State is picked by coaches to finish in the middle of the Big Sky Conference.



Oregon alums have plenty stirring NFL tales to tell

The best Ducks coming out of Eugene have Hall of Fame on them
Guest post

With Justin Herbert a round one pick this year and Penei Sewell tipped to feature near the top of the 2021 draft, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at the biggest names to have come out of the University of Oregon in the past. 

Football only, of course. Here goes our top five. 

5. Bobby Moore

Moore was a wide receiver in his High School days before changing to a running back in his Eugene. It proved a good switch as in 1972 he became the fourth overall pick to join the St. Louis Cardinals. It wasn’t until he joined the Minnesota Vikings in 1976 that his career came to life though. 

He managed 5,489 receiving yards with the Vikings, and boasted a total NFL haul of 44 touchdowns. The history books will look back kindly too as he made four Pro Bowls and was named in the top 50 Vikings of all time.

4. Dave Wilcox

Wilcox might not have stolen headlines like the next few names on our list, but he still deserves his place here. He joined the San Francisco 49ers after being picked up as the number 29 selection in the 1964 draft. 

His defensive qualities quickly came to the fore. In 1966 he made his first Pro Bowl and by the time he called it a day some seven years later, he’d made a further six. Wilcox was a man mountain of a defender and his presence in the 49ers side was a huge part of their strong performances in the late sixties and early seventies.

3. Norm Van Brocklin

Had the Super Bowl existed in his era Van Brocklin would probably have won it, at least once. He did win the NFL Championship with both teams he represented - the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles. 

He was a round four pick, but excelled himself with his performances making nine Pro Bowl appearances, leading the league once in passing yards and being named league MVP in his final season before retirement, 1960, which coincided with the Eagles winning the Championship. 

On top of that, even to this day, Van Brocklin holds the record for the most passing yards in a game, which was a whopping 554. 

2. Dan Fouts 

Quarterback Fouts was taken by the San Diego Chargers in round three of the 1973 draft, and it’s fair they made a smart call after his 15 season with the club. Fouts contributed from his rookie season, but it was several years later when he really upped his game. 

In 1979, he broke the 4,000 passing yards mark for the first time as he led the league, then repeated that theme for the next four years,  earning Offensive Player of the Year in 1982.

The first three years of that run saw him post north of 4,000 yards each time; prior to that, no quarterback had even managed the feat in two consecutive campaigns. He managed six Pro Bowl games, but a Super Bowl appearance proved elusive.

1. Mel Renfro

Topping our list of the best Ducks ever is cornerback convert Mel Renfro. Like Wilcox, Renfro was drafted in 1964 as he penned a deal with the Dallas Cowboys at the number 17 pick. The selection nearly didn’t happen due to question marks over his fitness, but once on the grass, Renfro wasted little time creating a reputation for himself. 

He had All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in his rookie season. It was a high bar to set, but his consistency across his career meant he maintained those levels. His first decade in the NFL saw him make 10 consecutive Pro Bowls whilst seven All-Pro nods isn’t too shoddy! To cap it all off, Renfro also helped the Cowboys to two Super Bowl wins.

There you have it, the five biggest names to come out of the University of Oregon. Do you know more names that should be added to the list? Click here to take this College Football Trivia test and surprise yourself with your knowledge!





Justin Herbert -


Mel Renfro -


College Football Trivia -

Oregon in line for national title

Ducks overcome stubborn WSU with stellar second half, 43-29
Staff Report

It was a bit of a challenge for hardcore fans to follow in the opening two quarters, but the Oregon Ducks prevailed in the way they needed to Saturday to make their case for being relative to any conversation involving national champion.

The Ducks overcame three first-half turnovers and won at Washington State for the first time in six years, overcoming the hosts 29-10 in the second half on the way to a 43-29 win.

Sophomore Tyler Shough threw four touchdown passes in his second start and the Ducks rolled up 581 yards of total offense in the win.

Oregon improved to 2-0 on the season heading into a game with UCLA Saturday.

WSU, which led 19-7 with 17 seconds left in the first half, fell to 1-1.


Ducks roll through Stanford

Oregon opens Pac-12 play as favorite, and wins
Staff Report

The magic of Stanford beating Oregon that's happened in the past lasted about seven minutes Saturday night.

In the rest of the PAc-12 Conference football opener between the Cardinal and Ducks, Oregon dominated and finished with a 35-14 victory in the season-opener for both teams at Autzen Stadium.

Tyler Shough, making his first start, compiled 312 yards of total offense and threw and ran for touhdowns to lead the Ducks, who were conference champions last season.

CJ Verdell ran for 105 yards and a score on 20 carries and Travis Dye and Cyrus Habibi-Likio also ran for scores as Oregon compiled 269 yards on the ground, and 496 total yards to help overcome a pair of turnovers.

Stanford amasses 413 total yards and moved the ball continually, but stalled in Oregon territory, which led to four field-goal attempts - all misses.

Oregon missed its lone attempt as well.

The Ducks return to play on Saturday at Washington State, which won at Oregon State Saturday.

Portland State gets ready for its home opener in basketball.


Beavers get offense rolling ... eventually

OSU rallies late, but falls to Washington State, 38-28
Staff Report

The third year under Jonathan Smith began at Oregon State Saturday and nearly turned out a dramatic rally for a win. But, it didn't.

Washington State rolled to a 28-7 lead midway through the third quarter, then fended off a late surge by the Beavers and pulled off a 38-28 on the opening day of PAc-12 Conference football play.

OSU pulled to within 31-28 with 2:39 left in the game, capping off a 15-play, 90-yard drive with a 15-yard run by Jemar Jefferson. But, the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Cougars, and they bolted for a 44-yard score on their first play for the eventual final score.

Oregon State missed a field goal in with 21 seconds left for its final scoring attempt.

OSU plays at Washington Saturday. The Huskies had their game with Cal cancelled due to COVID-19 issues.

Tristan Gebbia finished with 329 yards and one touchdown pass for the Beavers, but struggled to move the offense into the third quarter. OSU's opening three possessions lasted three plays before a punt, and the team had five such possessions during the game.

Jemar Jefferson ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries to power OSU's ground game. The Beavers finished with 451 total yards of offense.

WSU finished with 456 total yards, including 229 yards on the ground.


Beavers have surprising season on tap

Unheralded Oregon State can only impress with what it does
By Cliff Pfenning,

CORVALLIS - It's easy to forget the Oregon State football team almost qualified for a bowl game last year.

Were it not for a game-ending touchdow at Washington State in the season finale, the Beavers would have had six wins and been bowl eligible. And, how long has that been?

It was 2013 with coach Mike Riley, who left for Nebraska after the following season.

In actuality, that's only five seasons, which isn't that long in the big stadium of college football suffering.

Smith has high hopes for this season built around quarterback xxx Gebbia, as he preps the team for its season-opener against Washington State Saturday at Reser Stadium.

Oregon State has been set as a 2-point favorite over the Cougars, primarily because its playing at home. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.




Oregon ready for season to start

Ducks face always-tough Stanford in opener Saturday
By Cliff Pfenning,

Once the Oregon football team selects a starting quarterback, everything will fall into place for coach Mario Cristobal.


The Ducks have so many questions in their line-up on offense and defense it's amazing any betting line would set a point figure on their game at home with Stanford Saturday.

But, of course, money talks, and the Oregon program talks plenty in every nook and cranny of the Pac-12 Conference these days, making its way to being the lone conference school in the AP Top 12 at 12.

Not USC. Not UCLA or Stanford or Washington, but Oregon at 12.

Game time Saturday is 4:30 p.m.

Oregon is an eight-point favorite over the Cardinal, one of the most pesky schools in the Pac-12 as in having kept the Ducks from a national title game numerous times. The other team is Washington State, which beat Oregon four straight seasons - a streak ended last season.

For Cristobal, Saturday can't come soon enough. 

"Finally," he said Monday, "the game is here!"

Oregon, as with the rest of the conference, had its season postponed to spring back in July, then had it resurrected in September to start in the first week of November - Nov. 7. The season will last eight weeks, with the final one being a championship game preceeded by a day in which the other conference teams will play within each other one final time to round out their schedules.

Oregon has played in the Pac-12 Title game three times in the past nine years, since it began in 2011. (Stanford has played in it four times.)


Beavers dominate Ducks on scoreboard

It's only 41-38, but it's a huge win for Oregon State
Staff Report

What we learned from UO vs. OSU non-Civil War Game

What a win for Oregon State, beating the Ducks 41-38 with a last-minute touchdown splurge. 

What a loss for Oregon, getting outscored 22-7 in the fourth quarter of a game Las Vegas thought it would win by two touchdowns.

It’s the Covid-19 season for everything, so many people will just think it’ll mean less. It’s 2020, blah. But, there is so much more than just a blah win/loss from the former Civil War game played in Corvallis Friday.

It really is a great win for the Beavers, as is any win over Oregon in any sport, but especially in this season where they could easily be 4-0. At 2-2, they’ve got bowl potential, and the Beavs haven’t been to a bowl since 2013. OSU just needs to beat Utah or Stanford in the next two weeks, and it’s bowl worthy. Call it the Covid Bowl, whatever, it’s still a bowl.

It’s something of a usual loss for the Ducks, who are still lined up to play in the Pac-12 Championship game with wins over Cal and Washington in the next two weeks. The Ducks lose a key game virtually every year, including to ASU two weeks before the conference title game last year, so a loss during the regular season isn’t a big surprise. Maybe it’s helpful for fans of this season to move past the College Football Playoffs.

Here’s the fallout as I see it from Friday’s game.

1. Jonathan Smith is absolutely the right coach for Oregon State

Smith signed on for five years in 2017, but then got an extension in January through 2026, so that puts him in Corvallis for a while. For a program that hadn’t done much since the Mike Riley years, he’s got the Beavers moving in the right direction, which might be the conference championship game in coming years. It’s great to see a team playing above itself, and that’s what OSU seemed to do for much of the game Friday.  Junior Tristan Gebbia guided the offense played well enough to win, and the defense kept the game in line for a win by doing just enough to contain the Ducks, especially in the fourth quarter. A key interception in the fog definitely helped that cause.

2. Jermar Jefferson is headed to the NFL

Jefferson, another junior, has three runs longer than 70 yards in the last two games, and finished with 229 Friday. The 82-yard sprint on his first carry was probably the biggest play of the game in that it matched Oregon’s long touchdown drive that opened the contest. As big a stat as the 229 yards is, though, is the number of carries he got in the game - 29. What college team gives its feature back 29 carries these days? The team had plenty of opportunities for other guys to run as it finished with 44. Six of them were by Gebbia, who got a pair of key first downs on fourth-downs. Jefferson is only 5-10, but he showed off great instincts to get through a line, and has increased his season total of yards to 675 in four games and 91 carries, which is almost the total he had last year (685) on 142 carries, a year after he ran for 1,380 yards. His running brings back the visions of another OSU great - Ken Simonton, who was just 5-7 but finished with 5,044 yards in four seasons.

3. Oregon can’t run the ball or won’t run the ball

Can anyone remember the last great Oregon running back? Someone who was a feature back game after game? Oregon has had plenty of backs get to the NFL and two who finished with more than 5,000 career yards - Royce Freeman (2014-17), and LaMichael James (09-11). But, those were bygone days. The Ducks throw too much for that to happen now, which is always going to be a problem for them handling the clock when they need. Friday’s game finished with a respectable 186 yards on 34 carries, but Oregon simply would not run the ball three successive times for a first down. In the fog that hit Friday, it was baffling to see so many long passes downfield considering the receivers often didn’t see to know where the ball was. To be a College Football Playoff team, and winner, Oregon needs to be able to run the ball better.

4. Mario Cristobal deserves an Al Pacino/Jack Nickolson/Kevin Costner/Sam Elliott-level pep talk

Oregon does not seem very inspired on the field. The Ducks are good, yes, and they can score and make a tackle or two, yes. But when the game gets serious and there’s a play that needs to be made, it’s just kinda part of the flow and if it happens, it does, and if it doesn’t, well, then it doesn’t. 

I see four movies the Ducks coaches and players should view and get some meaning out of: Scarface, A Few Good Men, Bull Durham, and the Big Lebowski. 

At some point, the defense needs to be able to stop any opponent on any play - if the team is College Football Playoff worthy. That seems to be the thing for every UO season - get to the Big 4. But, Oregon just finds a way to be just-enough better than most teams, and then, damn that one play almost-good-enough for the key loss. And, the offense is so tricky, and indecisive. When the fog hit, the plays should have been closer to the vest as in short passes and lots of runs, but there were still plenty of longer passes, including one that turned into an interception in the fourth quarter.

Cristobal is in his third years as Oregon coach and has turned the program into one of the prime destinations for recruits in the nation. So why isn’t Oregon as good as Clemson? There’s something missing and Cristobal is the guy to overcome what that is. Or, he isn’t.

5. The Pac-12 just isn’t that good, so stop whining

When the CFP rankings came out and the Ducks were at 15, it seemed like a bit of a snub from the folks putting them together. But, it seems pretty much spot on, so fans should just refocus on the conference title. Oregon is still lined up for that. The bigger issue is next season and getting all the younger players that seasoning they need for a run at something really big, which includes a game at Ohio State. The 2021 season also includes a game against the FCS Stony Brook Seawolves which is on par with Clemson in that the Tigers always play a FCS team, too. 



Gov. Brown should address Covid-19 burnout

There's 33,000 cases but only 58 deaths among residents 59 and younger
By Cliff Pfenning,

As the Pac-12 Conference moves to within a week away from starting its football season, there’s an elephant in the room of public debate - actually several elephants - in regards to public welfare and the Covid-19 pandemic. 

These elephants relate to sports in numerous ways, including fans in attendance at events. They're very toxic topics to get into, and Gov. Kate Brown would do the public some great service by addressing them, especially if it were in a town hall format.

Oregonian sports columnist John Canzano would certainly love to have the mic first and ask about the denial to grant the University of Portland and Portland State basketball programs the ability to practice and play games regardless of having fans in attendance. She's full-on said "no" even though Canzano has promoted they're the only two Div. I programs in the entire nation that are not openly practicing and preparing for games.

Perhaps Merritt Paulson, owner of the Timbers and Thorns, could ask about the reality of Phase 3 conditions for having fans at games. Both of those teams have been hit hard by the pandemic, but they at least have some TV revenue to help them survive. The Portland Winterhawks do not, and without fans in attendance they will not play this season, and might simply fold as a business.

I'd jump in and get to the first elephant, which involves Phase 3. In order for teams to have an audience, there needs to be a cure or a vaccine for COVID-19. So, what if there isn't one and what we've been able to do as a state - still under 700 deaths after seven months, is as good as we can do?

The logic behind this question is simple.

The 1918 Spanish Flu that killed more than 600,000 Americans in about 18 months by most reports, did not have a cure. Or a vaccine. And, it killed more than 50 million people across the globe. But, around 1920, it just ended. That might read like something America’s worst-ever President might say or tweet, but if you search online for “spanish flu cure” that’s what you’ll find. There wasn’t one. It just stopped being a threat to daily life and the US went back to chasing bootleggers instead.

The second elephant involves the vaccine. What if it shows up, but nobody gets it? A survey of 1,000 residents produced for the state showed that only about 40 percent of Oregonians would definitely get the vaccine. Half the residents surveyed said they weren’t sure what they would do, which is what happens with the flu vaccine every year - everyone does not get it. 

The third involves prosperity and simple public burnout. When the virus truly arrived publicly as a serious threat - March 11 with the positive test of Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert, many leaders began immediate preparations for a tsunami of cases and deaths.

Gov. Brown personally took action to turn the state fairgrounds in Salem into a 250-bed facility to handle overflow patients because one estimate had the state with as many as 75,000 cases in just two months. That’s a tsunami of cases. After seven months, though, the total number of cases has just passed 40,000, and total deaths above 650.

One factor keeping both those numbers down definitely has to do with the significant reaction to the potential tsunami: instructing the public to stay indoors, and closing most non-essential businesses such as restaurants, canibus shops, bowling alleys, gyms, salons, etc. With less contact, the virus has largely been kept in check within the state. How long that needs to go on, though, moves right into public burnout, and a key for that is the fourth elephant - the virus impacts a particular part of the populace much more than the overall population: men and women older than 60.

Information from both the CDC and Oregon Health Administration shows that 91 percent of the deaths attributed to the virus in Oregon were among the 60-and-older age-group. 

According to the most recent weekly report released by the OHA Oct. 21, of the 39,794 cases reported, 33,289 were from among residents 59 and younger - 83 percent of positive tests. The number of deaths for that group was 58. For seven months. That’s from more than 750,000 tests.

Younger people are not affected as decisively by the virus. In closing all those small businesses, though, their opportunities for prosperity are.

The burnout from numbers like this is in the focus on the spread of the virus. Super-spreader is a term associated with how many people might get the virus from an event, such as a football game, even if the people least likely to catch the virus and die are the ones at the game. Avoiding the risk those fans might catch it and pass it along even without knowing they ever had it in some cases is currently worth keeping everyone away from the event in the first place. But, for how long?

And, there's a big question about the connection between published testing/case results and actual deaths, in that they are not connected. The number of residents who die from COVID-19 in the state is a hard fact not related to the number of tests conducted. Cases, meanwhile, is a soft fact related entirely to the number of tests conducted. As more tests are conducted, the number of positive results will increase, but the number of deaths is not related to the number of tests or positive tests in any way.

The number of positive tests and deaths would very likely go up were society to return to more of a pre-March 11 lifestyle, which leads to the fifth elephant - is the return to the more prosperous lifestyle worth the risk of an increase in deaths? 

Again, if this reads like something the President might say or tweet, ponder that even a con man might say something that follows data and logic even though they’re literally farting into the wind when they say it just to prove they can make the wind change at will, not realizing their assistant just turned their body so the flatulence would magically float away with the wind.

"The virus will just magically end."

But, that's what history actually says happened to the 1918 pandemic.

The herd immunity that gets brought up regularly, well, that’s what national news media is involved with as it avoids addressing any of these elephants. It just focuses on the number of cases and the number of deaths, two figures that have a lot of extra perspective about them that goes unnoticed. 

The sixth elephant, well, that might be the biggest one of all here - evictions. The moratorium on evictions has to expire at some point, and when it does, there's going to be a huge demand for media time to cover all the heartbreak being passed around just the Portland area. Without more access to a pre-outbreak lifestyle, evictions are going to hit the state much harder than the pandemic itself.

Gov. Brown would do the public well to address these elephants as demand for more lifestyle increases.

With football season about to return to the state and plenty of fans yearning for a seat at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. Or Reser Stadium in Corvallis, most fans would likely have no problem wearing a mask, except, maybe, when the Ducks or Beavers face third-and-two on their opponents’ 18.

The public should have a voice in reassessing Phase 3 requirements for larger gatherings, because there’s good logic to suggest those requirements may never get met.


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