Syndication: The Register Guard

Dillon Gabriel is a left-handed Bo Nix. 

That may have sounded like an insult a few years ago, but after two impressive seasons with Oregon, Nix became a first-round NFL Draft selection by the Denver Broncos this spring. Whether that same fate awaits Gabriel is up for debate, but when it comes to the interests of Oregon as it makes its way to the Big Ten this season, it shouldn't matter.

There are many reasons I believe the Ducks are the Big Ten newcomer best suited to compete for a title in their first season. The oddsmakers certainly agree with the notion; the Ducks are behind only Ohio State, and ahead of three-time defending champ Michiganwhen it comes to conference title odds. There's the talent on the roster that's been accrued over the years by both Mario Cristobal and now Dan Lanning, and it includes depth along the lines of scrimmage. That's always mattered in the Big Ten, no matter what schools called the conference home.

Gabriel is another huge reason.

The quarterback situation across the league is wide open. Ohio State brought in Will Howard from Kansas State, but he hasn't been named the starter yet. We have no idea who Michigan's starting QB will be. Of the 18 teams in the conference, 15 are likely to have a new starter at the position this season. Oregon is among those 15, but unlike the others, the new starter in Eugene has a wealth of experience.

Gabriel was a member of the same 2019 recruiting class that included Nix (as well as other players like Spencer Rattler and Jayden Daniels), though Gabriel was much lower rated and did not show up to UCF with the same hype Nix had at Auburn. Now, five years and multiple stops later, Gabriel replaces Nix on an Oregon team with lofty goals. It's a great fit because, as I've said, Gabriel is essentially a left-handed version of Nix. Sure, there are some differences, but they pale in comparison to what the two have in common. Just check their career numbers.

QBPassing EfficiencyComp%Yards per attemptYards per dropbackAir yards per attemptTD%INT%Total TDInterceptions

Dillon Gabriel










Bo Nix










Having the same number of total touchdowns and interceptions is an amusing coincidence, but on the whole, they're similar across the board. And those areas where there's a sizable gap, like air yards per attempt? Well, look what happens to Gabriel's numbers when you remove his time at UCF before he suffered a broken clavicle that cost him most of the 2021 season.

QBPassing EfficiencyComp%Yards per attemptYards per dropbackAir Yards per attemptTD%INT%

Gabriel at Oklahoma








Nix at Oregon








As you can see, Gabriel's threw shorter passes with the Sooners than he did with the Knights, which leads to one area where I am concerned about Gabriel matching Nix's output with the Ducks. Like Gabriel at Oklahoma, Nix's passes were shorter at Oregon than they were at Auburn. Unlike Gabriel, Nix did a better job of completing passes downfield in those rare times he took those shots.


This has been my primary concern about Gabriel since he suffered the clavicle injury. He never had a cannon to begin with, and the eye test suggests he's lost a bit of zip to his throws since. It will be interesting to see how that impacts him and the Ducks offense in 2024 as they hope to compete for a Big Ten title or an at-large berth in the College Football Playoff. 

Potential impact of allegations against James Franklin

Dr. Scott Lynch, a former orthopedic consultant and director of medicine for Penn State athletics, just won a lawsuit against his former boss, Dr. Kevin Black, for wrongful termination; however, it's Lynch's relationship with coach James Franklin that's generated the headlines. A key component of Lynch's testimony is that he refused to allow Franklin to "interfere with his medical treatment and return-to-play decisions." Another former Penn State doctor, Dr. Pete Seidenberg, alleges he was pushed by Franklin and then-athletic director Sandy Barbour to disqualify a player after a suicide attempt to free up a scholarship.

I have no thoughts on the legal implications of this situation -- of note, Franklin is not a defendant in the case -- but regarding Franklin's position as Penn State's coach, these lawsuits could have a significant impact regardless of the outcome. It always feels like Franklin is under pressure to win at Penn State, and now that there are 12 teams in the College Football Playoff, that pressure kicks up a notch. It was one thing to fail to reach the playoff when Ohio State and Michigan were routinely in the way of winning the Big Ten, but now that there are at-large berths, Penn State is viewed as one of the programs that stands to benefit the most from the expanded field.

But what if Penn State doesn't reach the CFP in 2024? It's not hard to envision a scenario in which these lawsuits are used to help Penn State move on from Franklin while also possibly mitigating a buyout. Right or wrong, fair or foul, we've seen similar situations like this play out before.

New helmets alert

Illinois will celebrate Memorial Stadium's 100th anniversary this season with helmets from the program's past. I'm a big fan of the numbered helmets with the stars, but seeing these helmets is a great reminder of how limited Illinois' options are when it comes to uniforms.

With the school no longer allowed to use Native American imagery, making the Block I logo interesting is practically an impossible task. When forced to work with something basic, leaning into something like the numbered helmets makes it unique as every player on the field will have a "different" helmet.

Say something nice about Ohio State

Last week, I spent an entire flight sitting beside an Ohio State fan named Dale, who recognized me from the Cover 3 Podcast. We spent a good portion of the flight talking about the Buckeyes in 2024 and "those cheaters" (Dale's words, not mine) in Ann Arbor. Dale also told me that I'm too negative about Ohio State on the podcast. I explained to him that if I'm negative, it's only because I have higher expectations for the Buckeyes than what they've accomplished in recent years. Still, Dale asked me to say something nice about his Buckeyes when I had the chance. So, since Dale was a nice guy, I'll do that now.

For a group of delusional psychopaths, Ohio State fans are typically nice in person.

I hope that suffices, Dale.