Oregon Ducks Ready to Waddle Over Georgia Bulldogs in NCAAF Week 1

justin flowe oregon ducks ncaa football
Linebacker Justin Flowe #10 and cornerback Dontae Manning #8 of the Oregon Ducks bring down wide receiver Ty Jones #8 of the Fresno State Bulldogs. Steve Dykes/Getty Images/AFP

It’s a new day for the Oregon Ducks. They can beat the college football odds this Saturday when they visit the champion Georgia Bulldogs.

Oregon Ducks vs. Georgia Bulldogs

Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Shucky-ducky, quack-quack: The Oregon Ducks are back. Yes, Mario Cristobal has flown south to Miami to take over as their head coach.

But that’s a good thing. After years of offensive greatness, it was time to shore things up on defense – and Oregon has the right man for the job in Dan Lanning.

Lanning is especially well-suited to handle Oregon’s Week 1 debut against the defending national champions, the Georgia Bulldogs. That’s because Lanning was their defensive coordinator under head coach Kirby Smart. Look at some of the players Lanning turned into star commodities:

• DE Travon Walker

• DT Jordan Davis

• LB Quay Walker

• DT Devonte Wyatt

• S Lewis Cine

I could go on, but then I’d have to dip into Day Two of the 2022 NFL Draft. Yes, all five of those players were taken in the first round, with Walker at the very top.

This is why I’m happy to recommend Oregon as 17.5-point underdogs on the NCAAF odds board at BetMGM.

Georgia Defense: Too Many Cooks?

All right, there are other reasons. For example, as we go to press, the consensus reports at OddsTrader show 81% of bettors putting their money on the Ducks. You know the mantra: Early money is smart money.

Here’s another: Jeff Sagarin at The USA Today projects Georgia to win Saturday’s contest by somewhere around 13 points. Hopefully, the fine folks at FiveThirtyEight will get their college football projections cranked up pretty soon, but for now, one nationally respected free-to-use source will have to do.

Mainly, though, this college football pick is about change. Lanning has left Athens, and so have those five players we mentioned, plus several more.

The Bulldogs are going with a defensive coordinator dyad of Glenn Schumann and Will Muschamp this year, which is… interesting. And while they’re bringing in a truckload of young talent on defense, these players need time to develop.

Oregon Defense: Let It Flowe

Meanwhile, the winds of change are blowing in the right direction for Oregon. Maybe Lanning won’t have quite the same level of defensive talent to work with this year, and he has to replace another notable draftee in DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (No. 5 overall), but there are some bright spots at the first and second levels:

• NT Popo Aumavae

• DE Brandon Dorlus

• LB Noah Sewell

• LB Justin Flowe

That’s a “Four Pillars” group if I’ve ever seen one. And yes, Flowe is finally healthy after having each of his last two seasons cut short by injury.

Will it happen again? Maybe, but that’s not our concern heading into Week 1.

Oregon Offense: Same as It Ever Was

As for the offense, it’ll be business as usual under incoming offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, who helped put up some big numbers at Memphis, Auburn, and Florida State as he worked his way up the football ladder.

And go figure, Dillingham has been reunited with QB Bo Nix, who transferred from Auburn in December, hoping to recapture the magic of their 2019 season.

Which reminds me, I’ll just leave this here: 48-45. That was the final score for Auburn’s victory over Alabama at the 2019 Iron Bowl – the most points anyone has ever dumped on a Nick Saban defense. Bet accordingly.

NCAAF Pick: Oregon +17.5 (-110) at BetMGM