Can Oregon win without Kelly?

Ducks have the system and talent to win it all, but need to close out key games

Updated: May 30, 2013, 12:18 PM ET
By Brock Huard | ESPN Insider

Marcus MariotaAP Photo/Tom HauckQB Marcus Mariota, who accounted for 38 total TDs in 2012, leads the Ducks' high-octane offense.

From May 20-31, Insider's college football experts will examine the national championship chances of the 10 teams with the best odds to win the BCS title this season, according to Brian Fremeau's post-spring projections.

Today, Brock Huard takes a look at the path the Oregon Ducks could take to the national championship game and the factors that could trip them up along the way.


Three conference titles in four years. Three consecutive 12-win seasons. The third time in 20 years that the program promoted an offensive coordinator from within to fill its head-coaching vacancy. And third-year quarterback Marcus Mariota is now looking for a first in Eugene, Ore., closing out key games in November and December and bringing home the national championship to the land that Nike built.

While most point to the coaching change at the top as a negative and question title viability with a newbie running the show, the Ducks' coaching staff is stable. In fact, the veteran coaching staff has built a veteran team capable of matching wits with an SEC powerhouse in January. The questions that will arise in the years to come have to do with the replenishing, recruiting and regrouping required to sustain long-term, high-level success. Chip Kelly knew this was a special group, and that's why the remarkably decisive signal-caller fought indecision four months ago before electing to jump to the NFL.

Here's a look at three reasons why 2013 could be the Year of the Duck, as well as three potential concerns that could end up clipping Oregon's wings.


Why they'll win a national championship

• College football analyst for ESPN
• Six-year NFL QB and three-year starter at University of Washington
• Co-host of the Brock and Danny Show on ESPN 710 AM in Seattle