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Paul Finebaum Names His Darkhorse National Championship Team

Oregon Ducks QB and new Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throwing a pass.

BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Justin Herbert #10 of the Oregon Ducks passes the ball against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Oregon is one of the top contenders in a strong Pac-12, but some pundits feel the Ducks are capable of more. ESPN's Paul Finebaum is one of them.

During Finebaum's Tuesday appearance on SportsCenter, the topic turned to darkhorse national title contenders. Alabama and Clemson are the two clear-cut favorites, with Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma and others also in the mix.

Finebaum went with Oregon, which he thinks could get on the board with a resume-boosting win in its opener against Auburn on Saturday.

"It’s almost a trick question since everyone thinks it’s a foregone conclusion with Alabama and Clemson, but if you had to dig a little bit deeper, I’d go with Oregon," Finebaum said. "They have an incredible opportunity on Saturday to beat Auburn, which is not a Top 10 team either but it would be a significant win. After that they still have to deal with the Pac-12, a conference that’s looking for an identity.

"With Justin Herbert, who could’ve come out last year, I think the Ducks are my bet."

Finebaum isn't the only person to go to bat for Oregon as a sneaky title possibility. Longtime NFL executive Gil Brandt did the same yesterday.

"Oregon-Auburn is the best FBS matchup in Week 1," Brandt wrote. "Oregon is my darkhorse for one of the two playoff slots up for grabs (behind Alabama and Clemson), and it wouldn't shock me if the Ducks won it all. Nation's top QB protected by nation's top OL."

Oregon-Auburn will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday on ABC. It will be the first time the two teams have met since the 2011 BCS National Championship Game, which Auburn won 22-19 on a last-second field goal.

[ 247Sports ]