Tailgate Talk

Preview: Michigan State at Oregon

Marcus-Mariota-Slider

The first clash of top-10 teams this season takes place Saturday in Eugene.

The battle between the No. 3 Ducks and No. 7 Spartans is intriguing for many reasons. You have Oregon’s flashy style and high-powered spread offense against Michigan State’s traditional pro-style offense and stout defense.

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota can cement himself as a Heisman front-runner with a good performance against last year’s Rose Bowl champion. The Spartans lost six starters from a defense that led the Big 10 with 16.3 points allowed per game, but have potential NFL draft picks in linebacker Taiwan Jones and defensive end Shilique Calhoun, a preseason All-American.

Oregon’s season-opening rout of South Dakota offered a showcase of one of the Pac-12’s top running backs as well as a glimpse into the future. Junior Byron Marshall led the Ducks in rushing with 90 yards and receiving with 138. Meanwhile, highly-recruited freshman Royce Freeman rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns.

 

Michigan State at Oregon

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Autzen Stadium, Eugene

TV, radio: Fox, AM-750

Records: Michigan State (1-0), Oregon (1-0)

Key to game: Michigan State offers the kind of stout defensive front that has typically given Oregon fits, so don’t expect this to be a shootout. That puts the onus on Oregon’s defense under first-year coordinator Don Pellum. The defensive backfield led by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will be tested by Spartans QB Connor Cook, who completed 12 of 13 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 45-7 win over Jacksonville State.

Quotable: “It’s a tent pole barometer game that helps establish the narrative. It’s good for college football to have big-time regular season games to establish the barometer.” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.

Prediction: Oregon 24-20

Micah Rice

Micah Rice

Columbian Sports Editor Micah Rice is the author of Tailgate Talk: College football from a Clark County perspective.