For the most part Raiders fans tend to root for one of either the Cal Bears, Stanford, USC, or UCLA as those are the local teams where the Raiders are and once were. In those cases, it can be difficult, nearing on impossible to root for any other team, let alone a conference rival such as the Oregon Ducks. But as a Raiders fan, that's exactly what you should be doing for the remainder of the college football season.
Marcus Mariota is the main attraction for the Ducks. He is currently the Heisman frontrunner and considered the top quarterback in the upcoming NFL draft. The Raiders are in position to be one of the top drafting teams in that draft.
The better Mariota plays, the more teams will want him. The more the Ducks win, the more notoriety he gets, and the greater his odds of holding up that Heisman award come the end of the season.
Many of you might be asking why the Raiders would care at all about that being that they have the guy they are looking to as their quarterback of the future in Derek Carr. This has nothing to do with whether the Raiders need Mariota. This has everything to do with how badly the teams drafting below them will want Mariota as their quarterback of the future - and how much they would be willing to give up to have the right to pick him.
He is the premium player at the most premium position in football. There are really on three positions ever seriously considered for the number one overall pick - quarterback, left tackle, and defensive end.
The only other quarterback who is even in the discussion is Jameis Winston and with his serious character concerns which include a rape investigation, being arrested for stealing crab legs from a grocery store, and being suspended for standing on a table and shouting vulgar comments in the middle of the student union. Of all the things for him to ACTUALLY be suspended.
The other top players come at other positions which will not be taken first overall and which the Raiders have a need. Players like Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper and USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams.
It also doesn't matter in the slightest that teams know the Raiders won't be picking a quarterback. If the Raiders WERE picking a quarterback, the idea of trading the pick so someone else could take a quarterback would be absurd.
Teams trade up to have the right to jump AHEAD of a team they believe will choose that player. Therefore if you consider perhaps who might be behind the Raiders in the draft order you have several teams in desperate need at the quarterback position. Teams like the Buccaneers, Jets, Rams, and Washington. Even the Eagles with former Ducks head coach Chip Kelly could be interested in making the jump up to get Mariota.
How desperate will these teams be? Well, part of that depends on how well Mariota plays. Best case scenario, he continues his tear, holds up the National Championship trophy, then the Heisman trophy and any other National College QB awards are to be had.
With all that hardware along with his sparkling character, his dazzling arm, his elite athleticism, and his next level accuracy and completion percentage, you have a guy those teams below the Raiders in the draft order will be selling the farm to move up even a few spots to ensure they can make him their next franchise quarterback.
For the Raiders that means loading up on high drafted players this year and stockpiling picks in the future.
The Ducks have several games in the way of any talk of National Championship. They have the always tough in-state rival Oregon State Beavers on the road tonight (5:00pm Pacific time on ABC). Then they have the Pac-12 Championship (Friday, December 5 at 6:00pm) against the Arizona Wildcats - the one team to beat the Ducks this season.
Should they win those games, they will have a playoff game to win before they have a shot at a National Championship.
That's a rough road, which makes it all the more of an accomplishment should Mariota be able to lead the Ducks to the top of the mountain at the end of it all.
Some of you may already be rooting for the Ducks to play well. After all, they probably lead college football in Bay Area products on their squad and have for many years. For others, you may have developed an immense hatred over the past few years.
It's all understandable. But the Ducks winning not only doesn't affect most of your teams in the slightest, it also helps the conference as a whole and gives them a chance to stake their claim over the bias of the big, bad SEC, but it carries the bonus of having a very real impact on the Raiders' draft haul in April.