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Oregon Ducks miss a national championship chance, still are the team Cal strives to be

The road to the Pac-12 title goes through Autzen next year.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Let's talk about Oregon and the national championship game. Are the Ducks maxed out now that Marcus Mariota is gone? Will the Pac-12 North be more wide open? Or do you see more of the same next season?

Oregon can’t survive losing Dennis Dixon.
Oregon can’t survive losing LaMichael James.
Oregon can’t survive losing Chip Kelly.
Oregon can't survive all these injuries.
They keep surviving.

Oregon has an elite offense that knows how to find the end zone via passing or running. The Ducks return almost all of their running back and wide receiving depth plus much of their defense. They are getting deeper by the year and probably are national champions if they aren't bit brutally by the injury bug and Cardale "Tommy Frazier reincarnated" Jones wasn't just sitting on the bench for Ohio State (seriously are you kidding what he was doing on the bench).

This team goes away when Phil Knight goes away. Oregon is the favorites in the conference (and the division in particular) until someone comes in that is tougher, meaner and can flash the game that Ohio State showed. USC is a few years away, UCLA has been absolutely dominated, and Stanford's best talent is long gone. They are not going anywhere.

boomtho: As I also said in the year end power rankings for football, Oregon enters next year as the Pac-12 favorite. I'm sure their offense will take a step back with Mariota, but it's not like they'll lack for talent on either side of the ball. I'm also scared to find out which [QB/RB/WR] Helfrich and Co turn into a star next year.

Leland Wong: Oregon's gonna be just fine. They have their system in place (and I don't mean that as a backhanded compliment), which means their players aren't having to learn different terminology and techniques every year. And these players are coming in as highly-ranked recruits whom the coaches sought out because they fit the very same system. They may be more vulnerable for an upset, but they'll still be at the top of the conference and a Top-25 team.

Robert Hwang:  Simple. Ducks maxed out without Mariota? Nope. Will the Pac-12 North be more wide open? It was open? More of the same next season? Absolutely.

Mariota was amazing but is he greater than the system that they have built at Oregon? nope. The lineage of quarterbacks in Eugene has been amazing. None turned into great pros, but they all thrived while in the system. They had Dixon, Masoli, Thomas, and then Mariota. Safe to say another QB will assert themselves in the system and be an amazing QB. As for the North being open, it seems as though no team is on the brink of catching up to the stream line of talent that Oregon gets at every position. Washington still needs time for Chris Petersen to make it his team. WSU and OSU both lost their starting QBs. And Stanfurd... well it doesn't look they are in an upward trend. Unless some team semi-lucks out on certain positions and have diamonds in the rough, its hard to imagine any team in the North posing a real threat to a well established program that Oregon is.