Saturday the Tennessee Volunteers come to Autzen Stadium for a 12:30 game, broadcast nationwide on ABC.
The broadcast team will be the same as Virginia, Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham in the booth. Oregon fans may want to synch up their TV to the Jerry Allen radio play-by-play, available online at tunein.com.
The undefeated: Everyone is undefeated in the broadcast booth. Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Ed Cunningham will be the color man for the second week in a row as Oregon hosts Tennessee. This week the former Husky great told Pete Roussel of coachingsearch.com, “No way Mariota wins the Heisman. In fact, I think Oregon slips this year. 8 or 9 wins.” (espn.com photo)
Oregon is a 28-point favorite in the game, according to vegas.com. The Ducks appear to have advantages in speed, depth and experience over the Vols, 5-7 last year but 2-0 this season under new coach Butch Jones, formerly of Cincinnati and Central Michigan.
UT’s early victories came at the expense of Austin Peay and Western Kentucky. The clash with the Ducks prepares them for the coming gauntlet: in SEC play they’ll face #18 Florida, #9 Georgia, #13 South Carolina and #1 Alabama between now and October 26.
Jones is a superb coach who led the Bearcats to a share of the conference title in each of the last two years. His first Volunteer squad features big lines on both offense and defense, a talented defense with a knack for the turnover, with a nation-leading 9 so far, two nimble running backs, Neal and Lane, but not much depth. Junior quarterback Justin Worley is in his first year starting. At 6-4, 222 he’s a capable pocket passer but not a threat to run. In the two opening blowouts he’s completed 22-32 passes for 246 yards, 4 tds and 1 interception. His best outside receiver is freshman Marquez North, a 6-4, 215-pound speedster the Ducks pursued in recruiting. So far North has caught 5 passes for 60 yards, with long gains of 23 and 20.
Part of the challenge of meeting the Vols is the SEC mystique, which Oregon offensive lineman Jake Fisher lampooned in an interview on Wednesday.
Fans have to hope Fisher and his teammates take Butch Jones’ squad more seriously on Game Day, but it’s likely that he’s skewering the media fascination and fan paranoia rather than dissing the opponent. On the field the Vol defense features 6-8, 351 defensive tackle Daniel McCullers and 6-2, 243 middle linebacker A.J. Johnson, two future NFL draft picks. Johnson runs a 4.6 40. He rampaged for 138 tackles last season, and is indeed big and scary.
For the Ducks, this game is a treadmill test before the marathon. Tennessee has the talent to stay with them if they are sloppy or inattentive. Bear Bryant often said was all it took for a bad team to beat a good one was for the good one to play at 80 percent on a day the underdog played at 95.
That’s not likely to be the issue tomorrow. Jones will mold this unit in a more competitive force in the country’s premier football conference. Already he’s assembled a Top Five recruiting class. But UT is two years away from competence at the highest levels of college football. Oregon presses its edges in speed and depth, and rolls to a 46-17 victory.
How do you see the game, and what’s your prediction for the final score? What are you looking for in tomorrow’s game? What roles do you expect for Thomas Tyner and Colt Lyerla? Will Marcus Mariota improve his accuracy in the passing game? Will Oregon have an answer for Tennessee’s size, or is this one of the slip-back games in Cunningham’s pessimistic forecast?
The most accurate prediction, both in terms of score and overall game forecast, wins the Coveted Duck Stops Here Tee Shirt.
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