Oregon has been one of the most successful programs in college football of late, boasting a combined 22-5 record over the past two seasons under Dan Lanning’s direction. But Lanning’s program is set to take on new challenges in 2024 as the Ducks are leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten — along with UCLA, USC and Washington.

How’s that transition going for Oregon?

On Tuesday’s edition of “The Herd,” Lanning detailed how his coaching staff is preparing for Big Ten play.

“Ultimately, in my opinion, winning football is winning football, and it starts in the trenches,”  Lanning told host Colin Cowherd. “You have to be big up front. You have to be able to win on the line of scrimmage. I don’t think that formula changes, but what we’re doing right now in the office is truly studying some of those opponents that we’re going to be seeing next year, and you want to start to incorporate the things you might have to do that are different for those opponents and not install those the week of the game. You want to start to prepare for those in fall camp, so there might be a package here or two that we have to carry that’s a little bit different for some of the teams we’ll face.

“But ultimately, what’s going to win games is us playing our best ball. That formula hasn’t changed, regardless of what conference you’re in or who you’re playing.” “

Defending national champion Michigan, Washington, Ohio State and Oregon State are among the standout games on Oregon’s 2024 schedule.

Oregon was a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball last season. Offensively, the Ducks averaged 346.9 passing yards (first in the Pac-12), 184.5 rushing yards (second), 531.4 total yards (first) and 44.2 points (first) per game. Defensively, the Ducks surrendered just 222.8 passing yards (first), 97.5 rushing yards (third), 320.3 total yards (third) and 17.3 points (first) per game.

Oregon went 12-2 (8-1 in Pac-12 play) last season, with its two losses coming to Washington (once in the regular season and once in the Pac-12 title game). The Ducks finished the season with a 45-6 victory over Liberty in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl.

One major reason for the Ducks’ success over the past two seasons was the play of quarterback Bo Nix, who came to Oregon with Lanning after spending the first three seasons of his collegiate career at Auburn.

Last season, Nix totaled 4,508 passing yards, 45 passing touchdowns, three interceptions and a 188.3 passer rating, while completing 77.4% of his passes. Nix also rushed for 234 yards and six touchdowns, while finishing in third place in the 2023 Heisman Trophy voting. The season prior (2022), he threw for 3,593 yards and 29 touchdowns, while rushing for 510 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Nix was ultimately selected by the Denver Broncos with the No. 12 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

How Broncos QB Bo Nix’s study habits will help him transition into the NFL

Lanning was quick to praise his former quarterback.

“I’m gonna miss the person. He’s a special individual. He’s as good of a person as I’ve ever met,” Lanning said about Nix. “His wife Izzy is unbelievable. He came here with a different level of maturity, already married. I felt like we had another coach in the building. 

“What separates Bo is how much time he puts in to work. He watches more film than coaches. There’s no one that’s going to step on the field more prepared than Bo. And then the way he practices every day, the level of intensity. His commitment to being great, it really kind of spread throughout our program.”  

As for the upcoming season, Oregon is expected to have Oklahoma transfer Dillon Gabriel under center in what will be the quarterback’s sixth season in collegiate football (he was with UCF from 2019-21 and Oklahoma from 2022-23). Across the past two seasons at Oklahoma, Gabriel averaged 3,414 passing yards, 27.5 passing touchdowns, six interceptions and a 163.4 passer rating, while completing 66.0% of his passes. Gabriel also rushed for 373 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

Also joining the Ducks’ QB room will be former five-star standout Dante Moore, who spent his freshman season at UCLA. Moore threw for 1,610 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 125.6 passing rating, while completing 53.5% of his passes last season.

When asked how he balances having two talented signal-callers on his roster, Lanning made sure to point out how both Gabriel and Moore have excelled both on and off the field since arriving at Oregon.

“More important than what they are as players, these guys are unbelievable humans. They want to be where they are going to develop, but they are great teammates,” Lanning said. ‘You gotta see these guys in the locker room, interacting with their teammates, that’s what I think we have in that entire QB room.

“You also got a young guy in Austin Novosad that had an unbelievable spring. Dante can make every throw known to man. Dillon has unavailable experience. I’m really excited about our quarterback room.”

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