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TRIBUNE PHOTO: DAVID BLAIR - Royce Freeman's running wasn't quite enough for Oregon against the high-flying Washington State Cougars.In some water-cooler talk last week with our Oregon Ducks beat writer, Jason Vondersmith, we kicked around a question that would have seemed shocking early in the 2015 football season:

Could the Ducks fail to qualify for a bowl game?

We wrestled — struggled — with the concept of a bowl-less U of O team, then decided the Ducks probably would have just enough to get by Washington State — but then would be tested at Washington before potentially going 0-4 from Oct. 29-Nov. 21 against, in order, Arizona State, Cal, Stanford and USC.

They’d just better make sure to beat Oregon State, I said.

With wins against WSU, UW and OSU, the Ducks would finish 6-6, just enough to get to a bowl game, even if it was a bowl game a long way, figuratively at least, from Pasadena, Calif.

• The shocking deterioration of Oregon’s offense has the Ducks now depending on a conservative game plan and long drives mostly on the ground, with few passes downfield.

Devon Allen, are you healthy or not? And, can anyone get you the ball?

Darren Carrington, can you be part of the solution?

Help!

• The problems with Oregon’s secondary aren’t going away, so somehow the Ducks will have to score 30, 40 or more points per game to win against the rest of their Pac-12 competition.

Vernon Adams, where are you?

The Ducks could get to seven or eight wins, but it's probably going to take Adams playing at a fairly high level, or some good fortune in the form of injuries or problems elsewhere, etc.

• The Ducks are starting at three losses in a row at Autzen Stadium — their next home game is Nov. 7 against Cal.

• I’d like to see more than Royce Freeman in the backfield down the stretch — or at least have Taj Griffin spell him or be lined up somewhere on the field where he is in position to take a handoff or catch a quick screen, or do something.

• Some said Taylor Alie was going to get the call against Washington State and make everything right. Right.

• Who was the genius who made Oregon a 17-point favorite against the Cougars?

• Congrats to the genius who scheduled a trip to North Texas for the Portland State Vikings.

PSU’s 66-7 victory certainly boosted — skewed?— the Viks’ offensive stats.

The Vikings won big without having to call much on one of their most efficient players — punter Marcus Kinsella.

• Irony of the week: PSU coach Bruce Barnum, trying to find out several days ago if crowd noise would be a factor at North Texas, then having his team shut up the Mean Green fans, only to have them make a lot of noise -- but in the form of booing at the home team.

• This question came up before Portland State played North Dakota: Are the Vikings for real?

Guess what? It's time to ask that again. PSU, which lost by two points to UND, is playing Big Sky power Montana State at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Providence Park. Are the Vikings for real? That game probably will provide the answer.

• I’m not sure whose passing game is worse right now — Oregon’s or Oregon State’s. Watching passes sail over open receiver’s heads, wide of their bodies or into the ground short of them is about as frustrating as it gets.

• Hey, the state of Oregon’s D-I programs still won by cumulative score. Thanks to Portland State, the state of Oregon totaled 111 points and gave up 96. So there.

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