No. 24 Oregon opens new era against Bowling Green
Coach Mario Cristobal set a serious tone for No. 24 Oregon in discussing Bowling Green this week.
The Ducks may be 32-point favorites at home on Saturday, but Cristobal was thoughtful in his assessment of his season opener. And one thing that concerns him is the Falcons’ Air Raid-style offense.
“Where they pose a problem for you is they get the ball down the field in a hurry. They stretch the field. They have a little bit of the ‘Air Raid’ mentality and their receivers can stretch you,” Cristobal said. “They’re big, they’re tall, they’re athletic, they’ve got good balance and body control and they’ve shown they can make big plays.”
Bowling Green went 2-10 overall and 2-6 in the Mid-American Conference last season, the team’s second under coach Mike Jinks . Quarterback Jarret Doege started the final four games as a freshman and the Falcons averaged 35 points.
On defense, the Falcons have a new defensive coordinator in Carl Pelini.
“I know they’ve got a lot of energy in that program, a lot of juice. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them and we’re certainly looking forward to playing them Saturday,” Cristobal said.
The game will open Cristobal’s first season as head coach at Oregon. He was promoted when coach Willie Taggart left for his dream job at Florida State after just one season with the Ducks.
Oregon went 7-6 last season, falling at the end to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. The team went 1-4 over a stretch while quarterback Justin Herbert was sidelined with a fractured collarbone.
While Taggart’s Ducks often exuded the swagger and confidence of their coach, under Cristobal the team seems to have taken on a more workmanlike demeanor.
Herbert , a junior this season and taking on a greater leadership role, echoed his coach’s approach to Bowling Green, especially when it comes to making sure the younger Ducks are prepared.
“You kind of just realize It’s a game, it’s a business, and you’ve got to tone it down and do your job,” Herbert told reporters in Eugene.
JINKS WEIGHS IN: Bowling Green is accustomed to opening with big-time opponents. In Jinks’ first season it was Ohio State, then last year it was Michigan State.
“We know what we’re up against,” Jinks said. “This is where we’ve got to show progress. I thought we did a decent job of that last year in going out and playing a fairly competitive half versus Michigan State — that ended up being a Top-20 football team. We’ve got to go out and we’ve got to play not only a completive game against Oregon, but we’ve got to make sure we’re still in it in the fourth quarter to give ourselves an opportunity to win.”
UNIFORM WATCH: Another year, another new set of uniforms. Oregon unveiled their new Nike uniforms for the season earlier this month, dubbed “Oregon Football 2.0.” On Saturday the Ducks will wear all yellow .
OPENER SAVVY: Oregon has won 13-straight home openers. The only time the Ducks failed to drop at least 40 points on their opponent over the course of the streak was in 2009 when they were challenged by Purdue, 38-36.
UNDERDOGS: Bowling Green hasn’t won an opener since beating Tulsa 34-7 to kick off the 2013 season, and it hasn’t won an opener on the road since it bested Idaho 32-15 in 2011. The team’s last win over a Power 5 opponent came in 2015 against Purdue, while the last win over a ranked opponent was against No. 16 NIU in the 2013 MAC championship game.
HURRICANE LANE: Oregon’s football program has partnered with former quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to help raise funds for residents of Hawaii impacted by Hurricane Lane. The storm dumped as many as 52 inches of rain on parts of the islands. Mariota’s Motiv8 Foundation is assisting in the recovery effort. The foundation has also helped victims of the Kilauea volcano eruption.
UP NEXT: Oregon opens the season with three straight at home: Next up is Portland State on Sept. 8 followed by San Jose State on Sept. 15. Bowling Green hosts Maryland next weekend and stays home for its next game against Eastern Kentucky.