Coming into the season, the Oregon Ducks had high expectations for 2013 that included re-taking the Pac 12 title and making a push for the BCS National Championship. After getting pushed around in a physical loss to the Stanford Cardinal, however, those goals are now long shots this season. With the Ducks now sitting at No. 6 in the latest BCS standings, though, they still remain a strong candidate for a BCS bowl bid as an at-large selection.
Oregon found their way into the BCS in 2012 in a similar fashion. After losing to Stanford and watching the Cardinal win the Pac 12 title, Oregon was selected to play in the Fiesta Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats where they won big. It wasn’t the Rose Bowl or national championship game where the Ducks wanted to be, but it was a big bowl win for the Oregon program.
This season, that may be the best that Ducks can do once again. Now trailing Stanford in the Pac 12 North standings, they must hope for another Cardinal loss down the stretch to have an opportunity to get into the conference title game and a shot at the Rose Bowl. The BCS National Championship race is loaded with teams still boasting perfect records so it would take pure chaos for the Ducks to get back into that conversation at this point.
Their chances of an at-large bid were helped when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were upset by the Pitt Panthers. The Irish automatically gain one of the at-large bids if they finish in the top 12 of the final BCS standings. A third loss for the Irish makes that a near impossibility as they are currently unranked in the BCS standings. That’s a huge break for Oregon as one at-large bid is likely to be taken up by a BCS buster this season as the Fresno State Bulldogs currently qualify at No. 14 ahead of the AAC leading Central Florida Knights.
It isn’t what the Ducks were hoping for when the season started, but a BCS bowl berth gives Oregon plenty to play for after a second-straight disappointing loss to Stanford. Can the Ducks rebound, finish strong and cash in with their fifth straight BCS bowl game?