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California (1-2) at (2) Oregon (3-0)



Saturday, September 28, 10:30 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The Oregon Ducks will attempt to defend their No. 2 ranking on Saturday night, as they begin Pac-12 Conference action against the California Golden Bears at Autzen Stadium.

Cal has been bogged down by one of the nation's most difficult early slate of games, having already lost to a pair of nationally-ranked Big Ten teams in Northwestern (44-30) and Ohio State (52-34). Even in the Bears' lone win over Portland State they did not look very sharp, letting the FCS squad hang around before squeaking out a 37-30 win.

"We have started poorly for three weeks," Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said. "I don't really have an answer at this point, but it is something we need to get fixed."

The loss of Chip Kelly in the offseason has not hindered the Oregon football program one bit here in the early part of the 2013 campaign. Under new head coach Mark Helfrich, the Ducks have shined with three straight blowout victories over Nicholls State (66-3), Virginia (59-10) and Tennessee (59-14), and after starting the season ranked No. 3, they have crept up to No. 2.

While Helfrich is surely enjoying the ride so far, he is fully aware that it won't be smooth sailing the whole season, and he needs to prepare his team for a strong Pac-12 run.

"At some point somebody is going to score on us and we have to see how we're going to respond and I think our guys did a great job of just playing the next play," Helfrich said.

Cal leads the all-time series with Oregon, 39-34-2, but that has skewed heavily in the opposite direction in recent years with the Ducks winning four in a row. The Bears are just 2-11 in Eugene since 1980.

The Golden Bears' early-season troubles cannot be attributed to their offense, which has performed well in scoring 33.7 ppg and racking up 556.0 ypg, ninth most in the nation.

The pass-happy squad is led by freshman Jared Goff, who ranks fourth in the FBS in passing yards with 1,306, while completing 61.3 percent of his tosses with seven touchdowns and four interceptions.

Chris Harper (21 receptions, 324 yards, three TDs) and Bryce Treggs (28 receptions, 317 yards, TD) are an outstanding duo out wide, with the two ranking sixth and seventh, respectively in the Pac-12 in receiving yards. In all, Goff has hooked up with 14 different receivers this season.

The rushing attack averages just over 117 yards per game, with Brendan Bigelow (175 yards) earning the most work.

Unfortunately for Cal, its defense has not shown the ability to stop anyone, as the unit ranks 119th in the country in allowing 42.0 ppg.

The defense's saving grace is that it has forced six turnovers through three games. Khairi Fortt leads the way with 25 tackles and 2.5 TFL, with Hardy Nickerson (24 tackles) and Jalen Jefferson (24 tackles, 2.5 TFL, sack) hot on his heels.

Under the new regime, Oregon's offense has not skipped a beat, as it ranks second in the nation in both scoring (61.3 ppg) and yardage (672.0 ypg), trailing only Baylor in both categories.

Marcus Mariota is proving why he's a bona fide Heisman contender. Not only is he completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for 889 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions, but he has rushed for 262 yards and four more scores. In a nearly flawless performance against Tennessee the last time out, the sophomore had 456 passing yards, 27 rushing yards and five total touchdowns.

"His performance is one for the ages, especially with him being young and finally getting his first 400-yard game," wide receiver Josh Huff said of his signal caller. "He's probably one of the best quarterbacks in the nation."

Huff cashed in six receptions for 125 yards and a score versus the Vols to add to his team lead in catches (14) and yards (298). Bralon Addison (174 yards, two TDs), Johnny Mundt (121 yards, two TDs) and Daryle Hawkins (103 yards, TD) are also in the mix at receiver.

De'Anthony Thomas is as explosive as they come with the ball in his hands, turning 42 carries into 338 yards and six touchdowns. Byron Marshall (196 yards, two TDs) and Thomas Tyner (80 yards, three TDs) also average more than six yards per carry.

While the high-octane offense was expected from the Ducks, owning the nation's fifth-ranked scoring defense was something few could have anticipated as the unit allows just 9.0 ppg on 319.0 ypg.

"We want to put pressure on the quarterback, whether its anxiety in terms of our looks or rushing the passer," Helfrich said of his team's defensive philosophy. "When you tackle well and don't give up those explosive plays that's how that happens."

Derrick Malone has a team-best 27 tackles, while Tony Washington has 3.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Dior Mathis had a 97-yard interception return for a touchdown versus Virginia, while Terrance Mitchell and Rodney Hardick also have picks.

While the Cal passing attack may be able to do some things against the Ducks, its porous defense has no chance to stop Oregon's high-flying offense. Much like all of Oregon's contests so far this year, expect this one to get out of hand rather early.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon 60, California 20

09/25 10:34:28 ET

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Local
Final
EDM 6
CAR 3
12:30pm Today
UVA
UNC
2:00pm Today
NCCU
SAVST
 
Final
SFG 2
KAN 3
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
ORL 92
DAL 117
Final
TOR 83
NYK 80
Final
MEM 98
MIA 104
Final
CHI 112
MIN 113
Final
HOU 96
SAN 87
Final
UTA 100
PHO 105
Final
LAL 92
SAC 93
Final
GSW 119
DEN 112
Final
LAC 89
POR 99
Final
CIN 34
SFLA 17
Final
SALABAMA 27
TROY 13
Final
BSU 55
BYU 30
Final
CAL 41
OREG 59
12:00pm Today
WISC
MD
12:00pm Today
SMU
MEM
12:00pm Today
ILL
MINN
12:00pm Today
RICE
UNT
12:00pm Today
NEB
RUTG
12:00pm Today
KST
TEX
12:00pm Today
ARK
UAB
12:30pm Today
UVA
UNC
1:00pm Today
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1:00pm Today
NAVY
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2:00pm Today
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2:00pm Today
WMICH
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COL
UCLA
2:30pm Today
UMO
KSU
3:30pm Today
WAKE
BC
3:30pm Today
BUF
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3:30pm Today
MARS
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3:30pm Today
PITT
GT
3:30pm Today
SMISS
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3:30pm Today
MSU
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3:30pm Today
KENT
MSST
3:30pm Today
STAN
ORST
3:30pm Today
TCU
TTU
3:30pm Today
OKST
WVU
4:00pm Today
WKENT
ODU
4:00pm Today
UTST
UNLV
4:00pm Today
MIZZ
VANDY
5:00pm Tonight
UCF
TEMPL
6:00pm Tonight
WASU
ARZ
7:00pm Tonight
CLEM
SYR
7:00pm Tonight
LAMON
TXST
7:00pm Tonight
TXSANANTO
UTEP
7:00pm Tonight
COLST
WYO
7:15pm Tonight
LSU
MISS
7:30pm Tonight
TENN
ALA
7:30pm Tonight
AUB
SCAR
8:00pm Tonight
PSU
OSU
10:00pm Tonight
UTAH
USC
10:45pm Tonight
WASH
ARST
11:59pm Tonight
HAW
NEV
Final
NJD 2
DAL 3
Final
WIN 2
TAM 4
Final
COL 7
VAN 3
Final
EDM 6
CAR 3
Final
ANA 4
CLB 1
4:00pm Today
SJS
BUF
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
BOS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
DAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
DET
 
7:00pm Tonight
OTT
NJD
 
7:00pm Tonight
MON
NYR
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
CHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
PIT
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
TAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARI
FLA
 
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
WAS
 
2:00pm Today
NCCU
SAVST