Virginia Cavaliers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Oregon Ducks (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date/Time: Saturday, September 10, 2016 at 10:30PM EST
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
By Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UVA +24.5/ORE -24.5
Over/Under Total: 71
In week two action from Eugene, the Virginia Cavaliers make the trip out west to face the Oregon Ducks. The Cavaliers are off to a rough start in 2016 after a 37-20 loss to FCS opponent Richmond. It was new head coach Bronco Mendenhallís debut and not one he wants to remember. How will they rebound here in a really tough road game? Oregon did their part in week one with a routine 53-28 win over UC Davis. What will the Ducks have in store this week?
It is now Dakota Prukopís turn under center, as Oregonís new quarterback. He did well in his debut and the question is how good will he become. He might not have the talent of his predecessors Marcus Mariota and Vernon Adams, but he has upside and a nice crew of familiar pieces with which to work. Against overmatched UC Davis, they fell behind early, allowed 28 points, and gave over 300 yards through the air to the opposing QB. It was a successful debut, if not an overly-impressive one. Prukop was 21-for-30 with 271 yards and 3 touchdowns. Oregon took a lot of lumps last season, before turning things around and looking like one of the best teams in the conference late. They were hoping to keep that momentum going this season and we should have a little better idea of that after this game.
Look for the Montana State transfer Prukop to use a vast cabaret of different weapons. Royce Freeman is one of the best backs in the country and itís always nice to have a dependable back to rely on when the going gets tough. Tony Brooks-James is also useful out of the backfield and a viable aerial target in the flat.† Prukop will also work with a nice cast of receivers in Darren Carrington, Pharaoh Brown, Johnny Mundt, and whatever diamond-in-the-rough talent lurks on that sideline. The main question is whether Oregon can manage to carry on with what appears to be slight drops in quality in quarterback and offensive line play. Even if it shows up down the line, it likely wonít materialize in any kind of palpable way against the likes of Virginia.
Brady Hoke is the new Oregon defensive coordinator and on paper, that seems like a good move. Hoke has brought some defenses together in the past and has some tools with which to work with this group. Again, with UC Davisí quarterback going over 300 and putting up 28 points was not a good start. Last season, they allowed 37.5 points per game, a number that needs to be reduced if the Ducks want to contend in the Pac-12 this season. The front seven will be young, with only one returning starter. The secondary has some veteran pieces, but are a big part of why the Ducksí ďDĒ has gone in the dumps in recent times. With Jalen Jelks and freshman linebacker Troy Dye, there appear to be a few playmakers in this group for Hoke to work with.
It doesnít bode well for Virginia to get beaten in somewhat decisive fashion to the likes of FCS school Richmond. In recent seasons, this Virginia team has been flatóthatís the best way to put it. Theyíve been one of the duller, yet frustrating teams to watch in recent seasons. They had some strong recruiting classes in recent seasons that produced little as far as on-the-field excellence. Theyíve been an underachieving, unmotivated, and deflated bunch in recent seasons.
With Mendenhallís track record, one would tend to defer to his expertise and assume heíll yield some positive results at some point. It just might take longer than expected. His coaching style differs from his predecessor and it might take a few recruiting seasons before Mendenhall can make things happen. Sure, there have been teams with awful week one losses who ended up making something of their seasons, but week one definitely painted a bleak picture.
The Cavaliers actually got a decent game out of new QB Kurt Benkert, who threw for three scores on 26-for-34 passing. The junior wasnít bad, but needs a support system to surface. Taquan Mizzell, the Cavaliersí top weapon in 2015, was very quiet in week one. Albert Reid is a nice back who should contribute this season. Keeon Johnson and Olamide Zaccheaus are two returning receivers with experience. Other than at QB, this offense actually had a lot of returning pieces. But against Richmond, their 20-point output was an exercise in futility.
Mendenhallís expertise lies on the defensive side of the ball, making their week one performance all the more deflating.† After giving up 337 yards to Richmondís quarterback and watching them run the ball effectively, it looked like Virginia simply might not have the horses to hang with the better teams they play this season. The line is a ragtag bunch thatís going to need a lot of work before getting in-shape. And any upswing that was anticipated with the secondary looked like ill-placed optimism in week one.
Again, after such a horrible performance in week one, itís easy to underrate a team like Virginia. Chances are theyíre not as bad as they looked. And even at their worst, they can be pretty gritty, as high-powered teams can struggle to get untracked against this team sometimes. Itís just that any bettor who has been at this long enough will attest to how easy it is to be led astray by a bizarre week one result.
The Oregon coaching staff was pretty hard on their Ducksí squad in the press, saying they have a long way to go in a lot of areas. This week in practice will be a high-urgency period that will have the Ducks ready to shine this week. Virginia will likely be somewhat flat and against a charged-up Ducks team, that isnít good. Itís just a really tough road trip for a bad team and I see Oregon dropping the hammer to some extent.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the Oregon Ducks minus 24.5 points.
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