When it comes to college football in 2014, the state of Oregon may be able to stake claim to the crown of the best in college football.
It may sound wild at first, but hear me out here.
Both the Oregon Ducks, and the Linfield Wildcats (D-III - OR) are among the top four teams remaining in their respective college football playoff, and Southern Oregon (NAIA) recently punched their ticket to the program's first ever trip to the NAIA title game on December 12th.
We're all well aware of the success that the Oregon Ducks have had this season, led by Mark Helfrich. 11-1 and a #2 ranking in the college football playoff, with Heisman finalist quarterback Marcus Mariota leading the way with nearly 3,800 yards passing and 38 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. Just give the man the Heisman already.
The Ducks have beaten Michigan State, Stanford, Utah, Oregon State and Washington all by double digits, and all but one of their 12 wins this year came by double digits (Washington State was a seven point win). In the Pac-12 title game, Helfrich's crew avenged their only loss of the year to Arizona with a emphatic 51-13 drubbing of the Wildcats.
At the Division III level, Linfield rolled through the regular season with an 8-1 overall record, and has carried that momentum to the playoffs, where they've won two of their three games against some of the best teams that small college football has to offer by at least 30 points. The Wildcats will face defending national champion Wisconsin Whitewater on Saturday at 3:30 on ESPNU in the national semifinals with a shot to play the winner of Mount Union and Wesley next weekend.
NAIA program Southern Oregon (winners of the 2013 FootballScoop Video of the Year competition) was actually the first Oregon program to punch their ticket to a national title game, and the did it with a rather impressive run. In the NAIA playoffs, SOU knocked off the #1 team in the country (Carroll) and the #3 team in the country (St. Xavier) in back to back weeks...both on the road. The Raiders are also putting up some video game like numbers, especially on the offensive side of the ball, led by quarterback Austin Dodge. Dodge has been voted offensive player of the year three times, and has also rewritten the NAIA record book for passing yards, completions, passing touchdowns, and total touchdowns.
Oh yeah, and Oregon State just pried Gary Andersen away from Wisconsin.
The accomplishments and resumes from Oregon, Linfield and Southern Oregon will stack up against college programs from any other state in the country, which is why I believe the state of Oregon deserves the crown as the king of college football for the 2014 season.
Even if you dispute Oregon's crown, it's impossible to deny that this season is shaping up to be a very special year for college football in Oregon.