Ducks make final preparations for season opener

Ducks make final preparations for season opener

Nicholls vs. No.3 Oregon, 3 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)

Line: No line.

Series record:  First meeting.

WHAT'S AT STAKE

Saturday's game marks the head coaching debut of Mark Helfrich, who was promoted by the Ducks when Chip Kelly departed for the Philadelphia Eagles in January. Helfrich was Oregon's offensive coordinator, a job that has been taken over by Scott Frost, the former Nebraska quarterback. The Ducks have won their last eight home openers, while Nicholls has lost four straight road openers. The Colonels have won just one game in each of the last two seasons.

KEY MATCHUP

Oregon's hyperdrive offense against Nicholls' new-look defense. Helfrich says he's not going to change much from what the Ducks did the past four seasons under Kelly, but many are expecting that the team will pass more often now that sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota has a year of experience as a starter. Nicholls is transitioning this season from a 3-4 defense to a 3-3-5, which puts senior safeties T.J. Lumar, Tyler Hanberry and Siegan Vergenal on the field at the same time.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Nicholls: QB Beaux Hebert, who takes over as starter after Landry Klann sustained a shoulder injury that required surgery and sidelined him for the season. Hebert is the son of former New Orleans Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert. He threw for 569 yards and two touchdowns last year.

Oregon: Mariota. His appearance in Saturday's game may be brief, because Oregon will likely want to give his backups some game experience if the Ducks have a sizable lead.

FACTS & FIGURES

The Colonels' last game was also in the state of Oregon: Nicholls played Oregon State in Corvallis on Dec. 1, a game that was supposed to be the opener but was put off by Hurricane Isaac. Nicholls lost to the Beavers 77-3. ... The Colonels have never faced a team ranked in the top five. ... Oregon has never faced a team from the Southland Conference. ... It is the sixth consecutive season that the Ducks have been ranked in the AP's preseason Top 25. ... The Ducks averaged 537.4 yards and 49.5 points per game last season.