Oregon football had a solid first season under Dan Lanning with 10 wins but the Ducks are looking for more and we analyze what realistic expectations are.
When the Oregon football team was sitting at 9-1, it seemed like the Ducks were on the cusp of winning the Pac-12 title and reaching the College Football Playoff.
However, losses to both of their top rivals — Washington and Oregon State — ended those hopes. Oregon rebounded with a bowl win and finished 10-3. However, Oregon football fans are surely looking for more in 2023, especially with the return of Heisman contender Bo Nix.
We have all heard about the good Bo Nix and the bad Bo Nix. When he’s on, he can be as good as any quarterback in college football. He can also have issues with turnovers and those are things that flared up in key losses.
Yet, Oregon football is loaded, especially on offense. The offensive line also has two really talented tackles and two running backs that combined for over 1,800 yards and that doesn’t even include Nix, who also rushed for over 500 yards.
Nix threw for 3,593 yards and 29 touchdowns compared to just seven interceptions. He also ran for 14 scores in addition to the yards. The defense lost a number of players that are going to the NFL but Oregon football returns starters at all three levels and the Ducks have also added some reinforcements from the transfer portal in the secondary and at wide receiver.
The talent is there and the schedule is somewhat favorable. Oregon has to make trips to Washington and Utah. However, USC also takes the trip to Eugene as does Oregon State.
The non-conference schedule is pretty easy, outside of a road trip to Texas Tech, but it’s all manageable. So what’s a realistic expectation?
Realistic expectations for Oregon football in 2023
I see no reason why Oregon football can’t make a playoff push again in 2023. The season opener against Georgia really set this team back last season and that won’t be an issue this time around.
Nix won’t have OC Kenny Dillingham but if the Ducks can get him and that running game to be as productive, the offense should be elite. Lanning is an elite defensive coordinator and Oregon should be fine on that side of the ball as well.
Better than fine, I just don’t expect the Ducks’ defense to be like one of Lanning’s with Georgia. Oregon will need to win one of those two road games (Utah and Washington) and hold serve at home, plus win the Pac-12 championship to have a shot at the playoff.
A lack of marquee non-conference wins could hurt at the end of the season, so a 12-1 record might not be enough, but the Ducks should get chances for some high-profile wins in the Pac-12.
USC might be the favorite this season, but I think Oregon football is right on par with the Trojans in terms of roster strength and anything less than a conference title for the Ducks is a disappointment, especially with this team.