(1) Oregon (9-0) at California (5-4)|
Saturday, November 13th, 7:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The top-ranked Oregon Ducks continue their quest for the Pac-10
Conference crown, and possible date in the BCS National Championship Game,
when they visit the California Golden Bears this Saturday.
Oregon, which owns the nation's most productive offense and a pretty strong
defense as well, is a perfect 9-0 on the season -- the first time that has
happened in the 115 seasons the school has been competing in football. The
Ducks have soared past the opposition with relative ease this year, with an
11-point win at Arizona State back in September being their smallest margin of
Despite failing to score in the first quarter for the first time this season,
Oregon blasted visiting Washington last weekend, 53-16. It was the seventh
straight win for the Ducks over the Huskies, and no game during that stretch
was closer than 20 points.
Oregon has been one of the more successful teams in the country the last few
years, and the Ducks have been notoriously fast starters, going 14-0 when
leading at the half and 18-0 when leading after three quarters under current
coach Chip Kelly.
As for California, it opened the season at 2-2, but has won three of its last
five to climb a game above .500 (5-4), and even its Pac-10 mark (3-3) in the
process. The most recent outing took place last weekend at Washington State,
and the Golden Bears claimed a 20-13 win.
Cal is a perfect 4-0 at home this season, beating up on the likes of UC Davis,
Colorado, UCLA and Arizona State by a combined score of 189-34. Going back a
bit further, the Golden Bears have won 37 of their last 43 home games.
California is taking on the No. 1 team in the land for the 11th time in its
history, going 0-10 previously.
Jeff Tedford is just three wins away from becoming Cal's all-time winningest
coach, and the Bears are hoping to secure their ninth straight winning season
to set a new school record.
California owns a 39-31-2 advantage in the all-time series with Oregon, but
the Ducks snapped a three-game losing streak to the Golden Bears with last
year's impressive 42-3 win in Eugene. Oregon has lost the last three times it
has visited Berkeley, last winning there in 2001.
Oregon's high-powered offense, which averages a national-best 54.7 points and
567.2 total yards per game, utilizes a punishing rushing attack (305.4 ypg) to
do the bulk of its damage. Sophomore RB LaMichael James is one of a handful of
players still in the Heisman hunt, as he has rushed for 1,331 yards and 17
TDs. His 6.8 ypc average leads the team, but he isn't alone in terms of that
kind of production as a total of eight different players average in excess of
five yards per carry.
When the Ducks decide to put the ball in the air, it is the job of QB Darron
Thomas to find the open man, and he has done so roughly 62 percent of the time
this year for an average of 230 ypg. He has thrown 22 TD passes against only
six INTs, and Jeff Maehl is the team's leading receiver with 54 grabs for 746
yards and 10 scores. The Ducks currently rank second in the Pac-10 and 13th
nationally in passing efficiency (158.41).
In last week's rout of Washington, James ran for 121 yards and three TDs, and
Thomas threw for a score and ran for two more for the Ducks, who finished with
522 yards of total offense and came away with points on 6-of-7 trips to the
The Oregon defense, while clearly a notch below the offense in terms of
notoriety, has been solid for much of the season, yielding just 17.7 points
and 329.0 total yards per contest. The effort against the run has been good,
with foes turning in just 126.6 ypg, and pressure on the quarterback has come
in waves as the Ducks have logged 26 sacks. Kenny Rowe has six himself.
Oregon has logged 28 takeaways this season, and Cliff Harris has five INTs and
Casey Matthews and John Boyett have three apiece.
Washington managed just 263 total yards last week, finding it particularly
difficult to navigate the airways above Autzen Stadium by generating a mere
127 passing yards on 14 completions. Both teams were guilty of numerous
infractions -- the Huskies being flagged 12 times and the Ducks 10. UW was
just 2-of-16 on third-down conversion attempts, and the Ducks were credited
with five sacks in the game.
Coach Kelly praised both teams after the game, "We pulled it together and came
out with a win. Hats off to UW. They came to play today", He went on to talk
about the fact that his club was slow out of the gate but eventually wore the
Huskies down, "We kept chopping away. The tree eventually came down, it just
took a little longer than usual."
Cal junior RB Shane Vereen has been an offensive force this season, rushing
for 886 yards and scoring 15 total touchdowns (12 rushing, three receiving).
Vereen's 90 points have him tied for 10th on the school's single-season
scoring list at the moment, and he is third in the Pac-10 and tied for seventh
nationally with 10.0 ppg.
In last week's seven-point win at Washington State, junior QB Brock Mansion
started in place of the injured Kevin Riley and completed 12-of-24 passes for
174 yards. He did not throw a TD pass and was picked off twice. Fortunately
for the Bears, Vereen was able to find some running room, toting the ball 25
times for 112 yards and two TDs. WR Marvin Jones had just four catches in the
game, but turned them into 101 yards to raise his team-leading totals in each
category to 42 receptions and 675 receiving yards for the year. He needs just
two more grabs to establish his new single-season career high.
Mansion appears unfazed by the next opponent on the schedule, even if it is
the top team in the land, "I'm going to prepare the same way. I have to keep
that even mind, it doesn't matter who it is you have to come out and prepare
as hard as you can to be ready for anything they might do."
The California defense leads the Pac-10 and is among the national leaders in
total defense (299.6 ypg), pass defense (179.7 ypg) and sacks (3.11 spg). The
Golden Bears are also second in the conference in pass efficiency defense
(109.2), third in run defense (119.9 ypg) and fourth in scoring defense (21.3
ppg). Those figures will surely be put to the test this week as Oregon's
offense is as explosive as any in recent memory.
Washington State managed just 92 yards passing last week, finishing with a
mere 194 total yards in the game. The Cougars converted a paltry 5-of-17
third-down chances, and the Bears logged six sacks but did not force a
turnover. Jordan Cameron led Cal with a dozen tackles, three of which were
behind the line of scrimmage.
Cal will surely put up a fight in front of the hometown faithful, but Oregon
is clearly the better team. Expect a physical game from both sides, but for
the Ducks to win comfortably, likely scoring more points than Cal's previous
four home foes combined.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon 41, California 17
11/10 10:55:21 ET