As the 2014 college football season starts one team that will have pressure on them to finally jump the hurdle and win that elusive national title will be the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks have had one of the most successful teams in all the country the past ten years, but haven’t been able to get over that hump and win their program’s first national title in college football.

The Ducks finished 11-2 last year and were on track to play for the national title before losing to the Stanford Cardinal. The Cardinal have derailed the Ducks two years in a row from possibly playing for a national title and finally winning that elusive national championship.

The goal in 2014 will be to finally beat their rival Stanford and participate in the first annual College Football Playoff in January. The Ducks will have all the weapons to get the job done, but will they be able to keep their focus for all 12 games unlike they have done the past two seasons is the question.

The Ducks return arguably the best quarterback in all of college football with junior Marcus Mariota. Mariota has been unstoppable the past two seasons, besides having issues with the tough defense and physical style of play the Stanford Cardinal pose. The Ducks have playmakers around Mariota to take the pressure off of him, but he is the engine that keeps this offense running.

The 2014 season could finally be the year Oregon gets that elusive national title, but they will have to survive a very tough PAC 12 conference. The PAC 12 has closed the gap on the SEC significantly the past few years and this could be the year the national champion comes from the PAC 12. The Ducks will have a tough schedule, but have the talent to navigate through it with minimal damage.

The Oregon Ducks scheduled a tough out of conference game against last year’s Big Ten and Rose Bowl champion Michigan State Spartans. September 6, the Ducks will host the Spartans in your typical Big Ten toughness and power against the PAC 12 speed and quickness game. The Ducks could have their season derailed early if they lose to Michigan State, but a win would do wonders for their strength of schedule when it comes to making the first College Football Playoff.

It is time to take a look at the Oregon Ducks’ 2014 schedule and go game by game to see how we have them finishing in their 12 game regular season schedule. The Ducks have the pressure and expectations of winning the PAC 12 and possibly the first ever college football final four. It will be tough, but the Ducks have what it takes to get the job done if they play up to their potential.

August 30- South Dakota @ Oregon Ducks- Oregon Ducks win 63-7

September 6- Michigan State Spartans @ Oregon Ducks- Oregon Ducks win 31-21

September 13- Wyoming Cowboys @ Oregon Ducks-Oregon Ducks win 45-17

September 20- Oregon Ducks @ Washington State Cougars-Oregon Ducks win 48-41

September 27- Bye Week

October 2- Arizona Wildcats @ Oregon Ducks-Oregon Ducks win 38-31

October 11- Oregon Ducks @ UCLA Bruins- Oregon Ducks win 34-30

October 18- Washington Huskies @ Oregon Ducks- Oregon Ducks win 41-28

October 24- California Golden Bears vs. Oregon Ducks- Oregon Ducks win 52-34

November 1- Stanford Cardinal @ Oregon Ducks- Oregon Ducks win 31-20

November 8- Oregon Ducks @ Utah Utes- Oregon Ducks win 34-24

November 15- Bye Week

November 22- Colorado Buffaloes @ Oregon Ducks- Oregon Ducks win 52-17

November 29- Oregon Ducks @ Oregon State Beavers- Oregon Ducks win 34-31

So, after examining the 2014 Oregon Ducks’ schedule I have the Ducks finishing 12-0. I believe this will be the year Oregon finally escapes the ghosts of the past and get through a season undefeated. The task of going unbeaten is manageable, but if the Ducks slipped up and lost a game I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.

This season, to me, just feels different for Oregon and that they will find a way to right the wrongs from the past two years. I believe the third time will be the charm against Stanford and they beat them to erase the memories of the past two seasons.

The one game that I believe will pose some problems is the UCLA game in the Rose Bowl on October 11. I feel the Bruins could very easily beat the Ducks and then we could see a rematch of these two in the PAC 12 conference title game.

The Ducks will have a couple extra days to prepare for the Bruins because the week before they play UCLA they play on a Thursday. I feel that extra time will be enough to get them past UCLA, but we could still see a rematch between these two in that PAC 12 title game come December.

The 2014 season will be crucial for Head Coach Mark Helfrich and the rest of the Ducks as they look to finally jump that hurdle of winning a national title. I feel this could be the season it gets done, but they must stay together all year and not have a breakdown like last year against Stanford and Arizona.

The Ducks are primed to make a run in the first ever College Football Playoff and it could be a special run at that. Mariota has the skill set and weapons around him to get the job done at a high level in 2014. The task will be avoiding that late season collapse and finding a way to finish the season strong. The Ducks are a national title contender and fully capable of holding that national championship trophy on January 12th in Arlington, Texas.