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Oregon football vs. Bowling Green: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Ducks host Eagles in season opener

Running back Royce Freeman #21 of the Oregon Ducks tries to out run linebacker Caleb Saulo #35 of the Oregon State Beavers during the second quarter of the game at Reser Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

EUGENE, Ore. – For a program entering the season with its third head coach in the last three years, Oregon boasts a surprising amount of stability. The Ducks begin the Mario Cristobal era on Saturday against visiting Bowling Green eager to show why many experts believe they could contend for the Pac-12 title.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: Oregon -31.5

Oregon was picked to finish third in the Pac-12 North but could surprise with an explosive offense led by quarterback Justin Herbert and running back Tony Brooks-James.

“With coach Cristobal behind the wheel, it’s full speed, right down your throat, take your blank-blank-blank,” Brooks-James told reporters. “There ain’t no, ‘It’s a first-year coach, we’re just trying to fill things out.’ We’re going for everything.”

Oregon has averaged 41.2 points over Herbert’s 15 career starts, and the 6-foot-6, 233-pound junior begins the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate after completing 67.5 percent of his passes last year. Oregon has won 13 straight home openers and are heavy favorites versus Bowling Green, which was picked to finish fifth in the East Division in the Mid-American Conference preseason media poll.

ABOUT BOWLING GREEN (2-10 in 2017)

The Falcons have the firepower to keep pace early with Oregon but will need to take care of the football after committing 25 turnovers last season. Sophomore quarterback Jarret Doege returns after completing 63.8 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns against three interceptions last season, while Andrew Clair will be the starting tailback after averaging 6.8 yards per carry as a freshman.

The Falcons replaced their entire defensive coaching staff after allowing 506.6 yards per game last season and could easily be overwhelmed by Oregon’s high-powered attack.

ABOUT OREGON (7-6 in 2017)

The Ducks again have plenty of speed at the skill positions with Brooks-James expected to carry a heavy workload and wide receivers Dillon Mitchell and Tabari Hines primed to build on last season’s strong finish, when they combined for 544 receiving yards and eight touchdowns over the final three games.

The defense showed dramatic improvement last year under new coordinator Jim Leavitt and should continue to thrive with inside linebacker Troy Dye leading the way. The junior is Oregon’s active leader in tackles (198) and tackles for loss (26.5), while ranking second in sacks (10.5).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Oregon has won 20 consecutive home non-conference games dating back to 2008.

2. Bowling Green is seeking its first season-opening victory since defeating Tulsa in 2013.

3. Oregon went 6-2 and averaged 49.1 points with Herbert in the starting lineup last season.

PREDICTION: Oregon 51, Bowling Green 17

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