Facebook responses suggest Ducks win
When we elected to do a Rose Bowl wrap for today’s paper, it seemed appropriate that someone write a column on the semifinal game between Oregon and Florida State.
I volunteered, not because I’m an expert by any stretch. There are lots of people among our readership who have the Duck football page as their home screen, who drive vehicles with green and yellow flags flapping brazenly, who named their first born Chip or Dat or Marcus. They don’t need my viewpoint.
That’s not to say I’m a complete dolt on the matter. I know Oregon is fast and plays more physically this year than many give it credit. I know Marcus Mariota won the Heisman. I know the offensive line will have Hroniss Grasu back and should be stronger than it has been in recent games. Thomas Tyner returns to the backfield, too.
For Florida State, there’s another Heisman winner at quarterback, Jameis Winston. They have a gifted receiver, Rashad Greene, who will operate against the Duck secondary minus All-American corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The Seminoles’ line has kept Winston upright the past four games and opened gaping holes for freshman running back Dalvin Cook.
Oregon’s defense has been impressive, for the most part, since its loss to Arizona. FSU has big and fast players on that side of the ball, seven of whom were all-Atlantic Coast Conference.
OK, so we got that stuff out of the way.
What about the game.
I thought a good approach would be to seek opinions on Facebook. Granted, it’s about as a scientific as a chem set for kids, and it’s skewed because, well, there are a few more Duck fans around here than Seminole backers.
At first, I asked people to tell why either side would win. Responses were sparse, but the prevailing notion was Oregon has to start fast because FSU usually doesn’t. Put the hammer down immediately and don’t let the architect of so many comebacks this season back in it.
One wrote that the Ducks will have home-field advantage on the West Coast.
Responded another: “Ducks defensive line is what matters! If they come to play?? Ducks WIN!!!!! (I omitted about a hundred exclamation points.)
That was the tenor of this crowd.
I tried another approach: Predict the score and let’s see who’s closest.
The allegiances didn’t change much. Of the nearly 40 responses, 34 picked the Ducks to win by an average of 42.2 to 28.9. For those wondering, Oregon would cover the 9-point spread.
Three FBers picked FSU to prevail by an average margin of 32 to 27.7. One of the three was promptly and unceremoniously unfriended by one of the 34.
I had to throw out a few other scores.
One had FSU winning 100-0. Then the Beaver fan amended it to 100 to minus-10 because, well, he doesn’t think Oregon has operated entirely above board.
I also tossed out the 11-0 UO win. Three field goals and a safety.
Out, too, was the prognostication of the exact score before the game. Yep, 0-0.
There was insightful material provided by the most rabid, and only, Seminole fan I know. He gave me an FSU hat a number of years ago. When I wore it and the ‘Noles lost, he politely asked me to burn it.
J-Diddy directed me to tomahawknation.com, where there is a very detailed explanation of how much stronger FSU’s schedule was than Oregon’s. This was scientific, mind you. Boxplots, efficiency values, interquartile ranges. I thought I’d been redirected to Einstein’s Wikipedia page.
I skipped to the summations because they weren’t over my head: The Pac-12 is not better than the ACC; Oregon hasn’t faced drastically better offenses than FSU; and five Duck foes — Oregon State, Cal, Washington State, Colorado and Wyoming — had worse defenses than Oklahoma State, the worst ‘D’ the ‘Noles faced.
With all that, J-Diddy picked his ‘Noles to win only by a field goal, and only after another rally.
One of the more involved breakdowns came from my wife, who was raised in Eugene and speaks fluent Quack. She’s generally a shrinking violet reluctant to express her opinion, but she couldn’t hold back. I asked her for a score.
“31-24,” she said.
“FSU?” I goaded.
She thought that to possibly be the dumbest question I’d ever asked. But it got her going.
Oregon has to start fast because FSU usually doesn’t, she said, not bothering to look up from the newspaper. The Ducks don’t always do so either, she noted. Winston can be vulnerable for interceptions and the Oregon defense has been playing better. Mariota wants to put an exclamation point on his career with a big win. But a caveat: FSU doesn’t even know Oregon exists and isn’t the least bit intimidated.
She had a couple thoughts on Winston and FSU, too. They were salty. She also speaks Sailor.
Her take seemed valid, especially the caveat.
The Seminoles have been the hunted for eons. They’ve won 29 straight, including last year’s national championship game and a couple conference title games. Yet this is the first time in 50 games they’ve been underdogs. They aren’t favored because most of their 13 wins have been unimpressive, while the Ducks’ have been the opposite.
FSU won’t lack for motivation, and I see it riding that wave and controlling the first half. The Ducks sputter. Extra TV timeouts for the bowl game prevent them from getting their pace-oriented offense in sync. Mariota isn’t sharp but doesn’t let it get out of hand.
With a chance to adjust and acclimate at halftime, the Ducks come out and play as they have for most of the second half of the season, fast and with confidence.
They rally for a 42-38 victory.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email email@example.com