No. 2 Oregon returns to Golden State to battle Cal

11:37 AM, Nov 7, 2012   |    comments
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Berkeley, CA (Sports Network) - Coming off a record-setting win over a tough conference rival, the second-ranked Oregon Ducks get right back to action as they fly into Berkeley for this Saturday's Pac-12 showdown with the California Golden Bears.

Oregon posted its 12th consecutive win last weekend at No. 18 USC, outlasting the Trojans in a 62-51 final. The two teams combined for the third-highest scoring game involving ranked teams in the 76-year history of the AP poll. The two ahead of it also came this year -- West Virginia def. Baylor 70-63, and Texas A&M def. Louisiana Tech 59-57. The Ducks got revenge for last year's 38-35 loss to USC in Eugene, which snapped UO's 21-game home winning streak and 19-game conference streak. Oregon has won 13 straight road games, last losing on enemy turf on Nov. 7, 2009.

Oregon is 9-0 for the second time in three years, but only the third time in 117 seasons. The school record for most consecutive victories to start a season is 12 (2010).

California hopes to put an end to a three-game slide this week, although doing so against one of the top teams in the country isn't going to be easy. The Golden Bears dropped a 21-13 decision at home to Washington last weekend, saddling the team with a 2-5 conference mark and a 2-4 ledger in Berkeley. Cal, which won't be going to a bowl game for just the second time since 2003, will close out its regular season next week at Oregon State.

Cal coach Jeff Tedford spoke recently about not being eligible for the postseason this year.

"The bowl game situation is obviously disappointing. It is not something we are used to. You work very hard -- the players and staff invest a lot of time and energy -- so it is always disappointing to not be able to play in the postseason. It does not happen to us often, and it is not a good feeling."

Cal leads the all-time series with Oregon, 39-33-2, and has won three of the last four meetings at home. However, the Ducks have won the last three encounters overall.

The Oregon offense was firing on all cylinders from the outset last week against USC, gaining 460 yards in the first half alone. When all was said and done, the Ducks had racked up 730 total yards and scored 62 points -- the most ever allowed by the Trojans. Kenjon Barner ran for a school-record 321 yards and five TDs, while Marcus Mariota, who rushed for 96 yards of his own, threw four TD passes in completing a near-perfect 20-of-23 passes for 304 yards. Josh Huff was the team's leading receiver with six grabs for 125 yards and two scores.

The Oregon defense allowed USC QB Matt Barkley to throw for 484 yards and four TDs, but picked him off twice, sacked him once and held the Trojans to 131 net rushing yards for the game. Kiko Alonso paced the Ducks with 10 tackles, and he also added an interception and a fumble recovery to his stat line.

Oregon has scored 42 or more points in 12 straight games, and 30 or more in 21 straight -- both the longest active streaks in the country. Mariota has played well above his status as a freshman, hitting the mark on 70.5 percent of his passes for 1,787 yards, 22 TDs and only five interceptions, while adding 474 yards and three scores on the ground. Barner has clearly been the team's workhorse out of the backfield, rumbling his way to 1,295 yards and scoring 19 TDs, averaging 7.2 ypc -- the team churning out 6.3 ypc and more than 341 ypg via the run.

The Ducks are giving up 22.9 ppg, with their effort against the run (137.1 ypg, 10 TDs) and versus the pass (243.8 ypg, 15 TDs) resulting in a total yield of 380.9 ypg. They rank among the national leaders in red-zone defense, allowing only 16 TDs in 38 trips by the opposition inside the 20-yard line, and only 22 scores total (.580). Conversely, UO has turned 50 of its 55 trips to the red zone into points, including 46 TDs. Alonso sits atop the team's tackles list with 52, and he has 10 TFL, three interceptions and a pair of fumble recoveries to his credit as well.

California amassed 249 yards on the ground, 411 in all, but still failed to score the victory in last week's home tilt with Washington. C.J. Anderson certainly did his part, rushing for 160 yards on 22 carries, but Zach Maynard was less-than-efficient in completing 15-of-29 passes for 175 yards with an interception and no TDs. Despite his QB missing the mark on nearly half of his total throws, Chris Harper had a solid outing in logging seven catches for 101 yards. Maynard had to leave the game in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury, and his status for this contest is up in the air.

The California defense recorded three sacks and four turnovers last week, but allowed Washington RB Bishop Sankey to set a new personal best with 189 rushing yards, and he scored two TDs as the Huskies rolled up 411 yards of total offense. Nick Forbes led the Cal stand with 11 tackles, and he also had two fumble recoveries and an interception to round an exceptional all-around performance.

Not only is Maynard now banged up, but the Golden Bears are also missing star WR Keenan Allen (knee), meaning Harper (36 rec., 481 yards, two TDs) is now the team's go-to guy in the passing game. Maynard is a 60.8 percent passer for the year, and he averages 221.4 ypg while throwing a dozen TDs against 10 interceptions, while Anderson spearheads the rushing attack with 673 yards and four scores. Cal is putting up just 24.5 ppg while allowing 27.6 ppg, and the team is generating nearly as many yards per outing as it permits (402.4 to 416.1). The Bears have surrendered a whopping 39 sacks this season.

Opponents are running the ball for 165.2 ypg while throwing it for 250.9 ypg against the Bears, and they have scored a total of 33 TDs against them. Still, the defense has logged 64 TFL, 26 sacks and 22 takeaways. Forbes has 74 stops and three fumble recoveries, while Steve Williams, Michael Lowe and Kameron Jackson have three picks each.

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