By Samuel Goldman
Oregon entered Utah last weekend hoping to avoid a trap game. They left more poised and confident. Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota manipulated the field throughout the game. Here are the three reasons why I think this Oregon win was the most important of the season.
1. Oregon’s injury prone O-line had underperformed all season. Critics and analysts labeled the problem the straw that would break the camel’s back. Utah’a dynamic offense tested the problem. The Ducks’ ability to weather the storm was huge.
2. Championship teams win close games. Top teams begin dropping like flies in the final weeks because they’re unable to pass this test. I believe that statement wins will determine the final four teams. Oregon’s blowout win sent a statement so strong all the Utah fans left early.
3. Conference games occupy every schedule. I have noticed that many “powerhouse” programs reduce this element enabling the ability to play cupcake schedules. The Ducks continue to navigate a conference based schedule. Their last two games are against Pac 12 opponents. Oregon’s Utah massacre proves that they’re able to survive a strong schedule.