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Tannen: Risky Business

Tannen says that Oregon true freshman defensive lineman Arik Armstead will have to play big tonight at California.

by Steve Tannen, special to DuckTerritory. Tannen is the host of Crunchtime and SportsTalk, which airs weekdays from 3-6 p.m. on 95.3 "The Score" Radio in Eugene. He can be found on Twitter @Sportstalk953.

Following a team with a shot at all the marbles leads you down some odd roads. I've spent far too much time checking the BCS rankings of teams like Wake Forest, TCU, Boston College, or Western Carolina. For the records, the numbers eliminate Notre Dame like they don't exist should Alabama, Kansas State, Oregon and the Irish all end up unbeaten. Last night Pittsburgh, who should have beaten the Irish, lost to the No. 99 ranked UConn Huskies. Today, Notre Dame plays No. 101 Boston College before 66th ranked Wake Forest the following week. Sure, Oregon has a weak one today with Cal, but the next two weeks more than make up for that as both Stanford and the Beavs are in the BCS Top 14.

Keep an eye out for TCU hosting Kansas State today. Horned Froggies play on natural grass, which is the first time KSU has played on that surface this year. TCU's Gary Patterson is a terrific coach, but his team has certainly hit some speed bumps their initial season in the Big 12. This is their first home game in three weeks, while State hits the road for the first time in three weeks. As always, I'm guided by Vegas who has the Wildcats a less than overwhelming seven point chalk.

On SportsTalk & Crunchtime this week we threw this out: As Duck fans do you prefer a Stanford victory in Palo Alot today which would most likely direct ESPN's College GameDay to Eugene next week? Or perhaps a Beaver win which would set up a Civil War that would be the epicenter of the college football world on November 24th? Next week's national schedule is light so Cardinal/Ducks is by far the marquee matchup.

I've been a firm believer the 2012 edition of Oregon has benefitted from tremendous timing. Open the season with four straight games at Autzen to allow the new quarterback and fellow youngsters to get acclimated against weak competition in their backyard. Kiko Alonso gets dinged, up shows Colorado on the schedule. Now the defensive line has been hit by the injury bug and a free falling Cal appears. Call it karma, destiny, what ever your choice of words, just gotta admit it's been beneficial.

Quick thought on the overreaction of the media and certain pockets of fans. In the aftermath of the Duck assault at USC last week, there were lots of folks knocking the Oregon defense. People, it was one game against one of the most lethal passing attacks we've seen in recent memory. Would you be even remotely surprised to see freshman Trojan wide out Nelson Agholor join terrors Marqise Lee and Robert Woods as high NFL draft picks? Quarterback Matt Barkley is a top five NFL Draft pick, center Khaled Holmes is a first rounder, if not early second at the latest, and both guys on the right side -- Kevin Graf and John Martinez -- will play on Sundays. The left tackle is true freshman Max Tuerk, who was named a High School All-American by pretty much every major service. Phil Steele had him the 11th best nationally at the position. It was one game versus an offense clicking on all cylinders. I've been singing the praises of the Alabama defense all season. Their pass "D" got cut up by LSU's Zack Mettenberger for almost 300 yards. The week before, Zack struggled against Texas A&M to the tune of 11 of 29 for just 97 yards. It was one game. Evaluate the body of work, don't cherry pick stats to aid your theory.

As for today's game, I've made sure to listen and read what the other guys have had to say. The coaches and players have been upbeat, talking about rallying for embattled coach Jeff Tedford. Those who cover the team think it's a sinking ship. Cal is decimated on the defensive line, they're breaking in a new quarterback, they've lost their top wide receiver Keenan Allen, and there is instability at the running back position. Vegas favoring 28 points on the road is a ton of points. There's some concern about Oregon's "D" line perhaps going without Dion Jordan, Isaac Remmington, Wade Keliipi and even Ricky Heimuli, but it's on the true freshman Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner to assume more responsibility and make substantials contributions. The Register-Guard's Rob Moseley says look for a redshirt burning as Alex Balducci likely suits up to provide some beef in the middle of the line. He's the young guy from Central Catholic and tips the scales at 290 lbs. I think this team is special. The offense will continue to click under the guidance of the spectacular Marcus Mariota and it's blowout city.

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