Originally Published: Aug 23, 2010 9:48 AM CDT
If the Ducks hadnt lost quarterback Jeremiah Masoli they might be preseason Top Five. Actually, they didnt "lose" him. They booted him out the door. Masoli sent packing after being involved in an on-campus burglary. (He landed at Ole Miss).
But Oregon still has enough talent returning to be considered the slim favorite in the Pac-10. Most noticeably running back LaMichael James who was electric as a freshman (1,546 yards). Nate Costa will likely take over at QB. The fifth-year senior is more of a pocket passer than Masoli. Strong-armed kid who has endured three knee surgeries during his career. The good news for Costa is that the Ducks return all five starters on the offensive line.
Defensively, Oregon is small up front, but stout at linebacker. Spencer Paysinger and Casey Matthews are veteran backer who will anchor a sometimes sketchy unit. Eddie Pleasant moves from linebacker to safety where he should bring some crunching tackles.
Oregon will once again be no fun to play in Eugene, but I think the departure of Masoli takes them out of the national title race. They lose at Oregon State at the end of the season and either at Tennessee or at USC.