The Oregon Ducks placed fourth in a July 31 USA Today preseason poll consisting of 62 head football coaches.
The Ducks issued a press release on the development on their official athletics website:
"Under the College Football Playoff format now in effect, every team in the country is playing for one of four coveted spots in the national semifinals to be hosted this season by the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.
"Those spots will be earned through play on the field, when the 2014 season kicks off later this month. The Oregon football team stands a good chance of getting there, according to the preseason coaches' poll released Thursday by USA Today.
"The Ducks were ranked No. 4 in the country Thursday, and got one first-place vote from th epanel of 62 head coaches participating in the USA Today poll, which is now sponsored by Amway. Defending national champion Florida State is the preseason No. 1 team, followed by Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon and Auburn.
"The Ducks went 11-2 in 2013, Mark Helfich's first season as head coach, and finished the year at No. 9 after beating Texas in the Alamo Bowl. Their No. 4 preseason ranking for 2014 makes it four straight years in which Oregon has been in the top five of the preseason coaches' poll.
"Oregon, which opens preseason camp Monday, led a pool of six Pac-12 teams ranked in the preseason coaches' poll. The Ducks were followed by No. 7 UCLA, No. 11 Stanford, No. 15 USC, No. 18 Arizona State and No. 25 Washington. The Cardinal and Huskies visit Autzen Stadium this fall, as does Michigan State, which was ranked No. 8 by the coaches.
"Oregon opens the season Aug. 30 at home against South Dakota, and hosts the Spartans a week later. Pac-12 play begins Sept. 20 at Washington State."
On Aug. 1, ESPN's Ted Miller addressed the issue of pressure on the Ducks in 2014, particularly defensive coordinator Don Pellum:
"A third consecutive Oregon loss in the series might suggest that Stanford has the Ducks' number, but it has no relevance to the SEC. I can count on four fingers the number of SEC teams that wouldn't wilt on the line of scrimmage against Stanford -- or be multi-TD underdogs to the Ducks.
"You might want to ask Tennesse fans about Oregon's defense, though some were rendered mute and blind by 59 unanswered points. Further, compare and contrast Oregon's defensive effort against Auburn and LSU with what other SEC defenses did to those teams in 2010 and 2011.
"But to take you general premise seriously, I don't think there's any particular pressure on new Ducks defensive coordinator Don Pellum. I think there's pressure on Oregon, period.
"That's what happens when your program rises to the super-elite. Think about it: What would rate a successful season for the Ducks in 2014? Nothing less than the Pac-12 championship, and if that doesn't include an invitation to the first College Football Playoff, I'd bet more than a few Oregon fans would give the season a harrumph.
"Oregon finished 11-2 last year with a final No. 9 ranking. From a long-term perspective, it was one of the best seasons in program history. From the perspective of the last five years, Mark Helfich's first season after replacing Chip Kelly was a bit of a letdown.
"Helfrich knew what he was getting into. The new reality is many Oregon fans now expect their Ducks to win the Pac-12 title and be in the national championship mix annually (Oregon fans over 50 just slapped their foreheads). Some might say Helfrich won't completely win over some fans until he wins the title, the one thing Kelly couldn't quite accomplish.
"As for Pellum, he will encounter the same sort of pressure Helfrich is experiencing. He is replacing longtime defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, who quetly built a nationally-ranked defense while laboring in the shadow of the Ducks' high-powered, up-tempo offense. For some fans to completely buy in to Pellum, they'll need to see the Ducks continue to rank among the conference's statistical leaders. For an even pickier contingent, the defense will need to improve."