Ducks Face Bears But is it a Money Maker?

Eugene – The No. 12 Oregon Ducks (1-1) face Missouri State (0-2) out of the Missouri Valley Conference in a game that was thrown together by schedulers when the Pac-12 came into being and forced Utah off the Ducks' schedule.

Chip Kelly said there is not a lot known about Missouri State and that a "lot of coaching will have to be done during the game" but he does expect the Bears to show a true 3-4 defense and run a spread offense, similar to what Oregon's scout team does in practice.

Calling this contest a game between the varsity and JVs, the starters against the scouts, might be an understatement. So far this season, Missouri State, formerly known as Southwest Missouri State was dominated by Arkansas, 51-7 but was more competitive last week against Eastern Kentucky, 28-24.

"We've looked at the them scheme-wise they've played two games so far," Kelly said. "They played Arkansas, then played a real good game last week against Eastern Kentucky. The one thing we know about Eastern Kentucky is that in Week One, Eastern Kentucky lost 10-7 at Kansas State, so it's another good football team. They are a 3-4 team on defense so it is the first chance we get to go against a true 3-4 team, so that will give us some unique challenges for us in our preparation."

While LSU showed some 3-4 defensive schemes Kelly doesn't think LSU is a true 3-4 team although they ran a little bit of it in nickel situations in the Ducks' opening game. Nevada also is not a 3-4 defense so the Ducks will see a true 3-4 scheme against Missouri State. The Oregon headman thinks that the game will present some challenges for his team's offensive.

Offensively, the Bears are more of a spread team, similar to what the Ducks run in practice. The quarterback, Trever Wooden started 10 games last year as a wide receiver is a "real athletic guy" according to Kelly. Two big physical running backs, Chris Douglas and Stephen Johnson along with Wooden compose the Bears running game. Kelly also thinks some of the Bears' receivers can run so he is trying to judge from the film of the Arkansas and Eastern Kentucky just what kind of team the Ducks will face at 12:30 p.m. (Pacific) inside Autzen Stadium this Saturday.

Several questions were asked Kelly during his weekly media conference about why the Ducks are playing a team like Missouri State. Obviously the first reason is that originally the Ducks were scheduled to play Utah, but that game was dropped when Utah joined the Pac-12 conference. The Oregon Athletic Department scrambled to find an opponent for the open date.

Perhaps Missouri State took the game feeling they might get a paycheck.

Kelly, during the media conference attempted to explain some of the problems those who schedule games face.

"Every odd year we're only going to have four home conference games," said Kelly." So then to say we're going to go one-one and one (easy game, moderate game, big game, tough opponent) , are we going to go on the road when we need to play three opponents at home, because there are revenue aspects of it, how many games do you have when you have your whole athletic budget based on seven home football games. Well, we want to play school X, well school X is going to want $1.1 million to come in here. School Y is going to ask for $500 thousand to come in here. That's where it becomes a difficult situation of who you want to play. In a situation like this (replacing a game) no one is going to want to play a one-and-done. If that's the case then the pool of who will come in a one-and-done situation gets a lot smaller."

Kelly went on to say that he'd love to play more big games at Autzen Stadium, in front of what he terms "the best fans in college football." However he says that many big name teams don't want to come to Autzen Stadium because of the noise, atmosphere and the toughness the Ducks show on their home turf. However, one has to wonder if the price tag those big name teams ask for is so high that the badly needed dollars needed by the Oregon Athletic Department to run its operation is jeopardized. Were Kelly's comments a call for help? After all, he did say to reporters, "I want to play in big games but I'd also want to play some games in Autzen Stadium. If you guys have some connections, help us."

One obvious question then is if expanding Autzen Stadium would help? However, Kelly doesn't think an expanded Autzen Stadium would necessarily mean that big-named teams would come to Eugene.

"I don't think people don't come here because of the size of the stadium, I think it is because we have the best fans in college football and it is a very, very tough venue to play in," explained Kelly." If you expanded it I don't think they are going to say ‘now you've expanded it, we will come.' It means we'll have 20,000 more crazy, screaming lunatic Oregon fans. It may make it worse to be honest with you. I just want people, our fans to be able to see games at home and we love playing at home. "

Kelly pointed out that over the last four years, Oregon's record is very good at home. The Head Coach points to Boise State as another venue that has problems drawing big games. Kelly asserts not many coaches are lining up to go into Happy Valley (Penn State) either. The noise and intense atmosphere of Autzen is daunting.

Still though, it is hard to imagine how having 20,000 more rabid fans in the stands could hurt Oregon's cause. Certainly it would create more revenue and help meet the big price tag teams want.

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