Welcome to the Hotline’s predictions for each Pac-12 game of the 2022 season. The 12-part series will be published in six installments, with teams grouped by travel partners. Links to prior articles at bottom …
Coach: Dan Lanning (first season)
Offensive coordinator: Kenny Dillingham (first season)
Defensive coordinator: Tosh Lupoi (first season)
2021 record: 10-4/7-2
Oregon’s five-year win totals: 4-7-9-12-10 (2020 season excluded)
Last postseason appearance: 2021 Alamo Bowl (loss to Oklahoma)
Best-case 2022 scenario: 10-2
Worst-case 2022 scenario: 7-5
Projected starting quarterback: Bo Nix
Key question: Will Nix help the Ducks win games more often than he contributes to the Ducks losing games? If so, their ceiling is high.
Here we go …
Sept. 3: vs. Georgia (in Atlanta)
Comment: Nix against Georgia last season; 21-of-38, 217 yards, no touchdowns, one interception. Not bad, but the Ducks will need a supreme, 60-minute effort from their defense. That bar seems a tad too high.
Sept. 10: vs. Eastern Washington
Comment: The quintessential trap game, except EWU doesn’t have Vernon Adams as its maestro.
Sept. 17: vs. Brigham Young
Comment: The Cougars have won five in a row (and six of eight) against Pac-12 opponents. The Ducks need to play an A-level game, and we’re not sure it materializes (for no good reason).
Sept. 24: at Washington State
Comment: A bounce-back victory calms the nerves in Eugene and establishes linebacker Noah Sewell as the Pac-12’s dominant defensive force.
Oct. 1: vs. Stanford
Comment: No questionable calls in the end zone and no fumbles on the goal line returned for a touchdown. The Ducks make enough plays in the third quarter to ensure nothing goes haywire in the fourth.
Oct. 8: at Arizona
Comment: Back-to-back encounters with their decades-long demons, and the Ducks emerge unscathed — with their quarterback’s knees in one piece and their momentum building.
Oct. 15: idle
Comment: No competitive advantage; UCLA is also idle.
Oct. 22: vs. UCLA
Comment: The Ducks escaped 38-35 at home in 2020 (against UCLA’s third-string quarterback) and 34-31 last year in the Rose Bowl. We expect more of the same; the Bruins have the ground game necessary to move the sticks against Sewell and Co.
Oct. 29: at Cal
Comment: Over/under on the number of media reports that dive into Justin Wilcox turning down Oregon’s job offer last winter: 217.5. Number of times Wilcox comments on the matter: zero.
Nov. 5: at Colorado
Comment: We thought about picking an upset because of where this falls in Oregon’s schedule. But sometimes, all the ominous game-week forecasts can defang a trap game.
Nov. 12: vs. Washington
Comment: We suspect the Ducks, as currently composed, have too much athletic prowess for UW.
Nov. 19: vs. Utah
Comment: Revenge is a dish best served in a cold, hard rain — and with a bunch of blue-chip recruits along the lines of scrimmage.
Nov. 25 (Friday): at Oregon State
Comment: Lanning clinches the Pac-12 regular-season title — and a stellar first season — with a methodical victory up the road. But his toughest test awaits.
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