After struggling through its first losing seasonsince 2004, Oregon is off to a 2-0 start under new coach Willie Taggart. TheDucks will look to stay perfect Saturday in their first road test – and finalnon-conference game – when they visit Wyoming.
Oregon also started 2-0 a year ago but thendropped 10 of its final 12 games to finish 4-8 and last in the Pac-12 NorthDivision at 2-7. Enter Taggart, who was 24-25 in four seasons at South Floridabut did guide the Bulls to 18 wins and two bowl berths over his final twoseasons and is now attempting to orchestrate a similar turnaround in Eugene. “I’mproud of this football team and how the guys are working together and playingfor one another,” Taggart told ESPN earlier this week. “That’s what we see morethan anything – you see a group of young men having fun and playing for eachother – and when you get that, winning comes easy.” Unlike its Saturdayopponent, Wyoming did have a winning season and played in a bowl a year ago, but2017 got off to a rocky start in a 24-3 loss at Iowa before the Cowboysrebounded to blank FCS visitor Gardner-Webb 27-0 last week.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network. LINE: Oregon-14
ABOUT OREGON (2-0): The Ducks rank thirdnationally in scoring (59.5 points) and second in total offense (634.5 yards)after home wins over Southern Utah (77-21) and Nebraska (42-35). Sophomorequarterback Justin Herbert ranks eighth nationally in passer rating (199.0)after completing 77.8 percent of his attempts and throwing for 646 yards andfour touchdowns while stud tailback Royce Freeman has rolled up 303 yards andsix TDs on 52 carries. On the other side of the ball, linebacker Troy Dye leadsthe team with 21 tackles, including 3.5 for losses, while cornerbacks Thomas GrahamJr. and Ugochukwu Amadi each have a pair of interceptions.
ABOUT WYOMING (1-1): As expected, quarterbackJosh Allen and the Cowboys bounced back to dominate Gardner-Webb as the first-roundNFL draft prospect threw for 328 yards and a pair of TDs after being limited to174 yards, no scores and two interceptions by the Hawkeyes. Allen also may havefound a new favorite target in wideout Austin Conway, who had 11 receptions for135 yards and a TD last week, but the Wyoming ground game remains a work inprogress as the Cowboys managed only 65 yards on 28 carries against theBulldogs. Meanwhile, safety Andrew Wingard (14 total tackles), the MountainWest Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and linebacker Logan Wilson (12)lead a defense which has surrendered only 24 points and 458 total yards to date.
1. This will be the second meeting in the serieswith Oregon rolling to a 48-14 home win in 2014.
2. Freeman’s six rushing TDs are tops nationallyand he needs three more to tie former Oregon RB LaMichael James for second on thePac-12’s all-time list with 53.
3. Wyoming has won eight of its last nine homegames and is 2-4 against visiting Power 5 conference teams in Laramie since2000.
PREDICTION: Oregon 34, Wyoming 26