6th: Pac-12 (4th in North Division)
40th: Division I
2017 In A Sentence: In what would be his only season at the helm, Coach Willie Taggart (left for the head job at Florida State before the Ducks’ Las Vegas Bowl loss to Boise State) guided the Ducks back to 7 wins (after finishing 4-8 in 2016).
Biggest Shoes to Fill: RB Royce Freeman is Oregon’s all-time leader in rushing yards, all-purpose yards, rushing touchdowns, total touchdowns, points scored, 100-yard games and carries. He is the Pac-12’s all-time leading rusher and sixth in college football history in career rushing yards. He totaled 5,621 yards and 60 scores in his Duck career. Freeman was selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the Denver Broncos.
Key Player: QB Justin Herbert might be one of the most underrated players in America. The now-junior completed 68 percent of his passes with a 167.5 passer rating, which would have ranked fourth in the country (and second among 2018 returnees) had he thrown enough passes to qualify. He averaged 7.2 yards per (non-sack) carry. The Ducks also won six of seven games before being sidelined after breaking his collarbone. His health will be the key to Oregon’s fate this year.
Fearless Prediction: Former offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal actually took over the head job for the Ducks’ bowl game so the transition should not be great. With a healthy Herbert at quarterback and a fairly stiff defense, the Ducks could make some noise in the Pac-12 North Division and should at least exceed the seven-win total from last year.