Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, right, holds off Oregon State defender Anthony Watkins during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011.(AP Photo/Don Ryan) - AP

Bring on the Bruins

EUGENE — The Oregon Ducks don't get the breather they've had in years past after the regular-season finale against rival Oregon State.

On Sunday morning they were back on the practice field to prepare for the inaugural Pac-12 conference championship game against UCLA.

The No. 8 Ducks and the Bruins (6-6, 5-4) have a short week to get ready for Friday evening's game at Autzen Stadium. The conference title game is new this season after the league expanded to 12 teams.

Oregon (10-2, 8-1) clinched the new North Division with a 49-21 victory over the Beavers in the 115th Civil War. The victory also moved the team up a spot in the AP Top 25 released Sunday.

The Ducks stumbled down the stretch with a 38-35 loss to USC a week before, which knocked them out of the running for a second straight bid at the national championship. But if Oregon beats the Bruins, they'll have a spot in the Rose Bowl on Dec. 2.

"We have a big game next week and if we win it'll be third time in row that we'll be playing for a BCS bowl game," Ducks tight end David Paulson said. "That's kind of what you shoot for in college football and we're on the right track."

The Pac-12's South Division was a jumbled mess until Friday, when UCLA (6-6, 5-4) secured a spot in the title game following Colorado's 17-14 victory over Utah. The Pac-12 split the league into two divisions this season with the addition of the Utes and the Buffaloes.

"It's kind of bittersweet because it feels like we backed into it. (But) it feels good to have another shot," UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince said.

The Bruins limp into the championship coming off a 50-0 loss to the Trojans, who also moved up in the AP poll to No. 9. Matt Barkley passed for 423 yards and six touchdowns, including two to Robert Woods, who set the conference's single-season receptions record.

The Trojans can't play in the postseason because of NCAA sanctions, meaning that they were not eligible to play in the Pac-12 title game even though they finished with the best record in the south.

While the Ducks were buoyed for title game after the rebound victory over the Beavers, UCLA was reeling from the humbling loss to USC in the annual rivalry between the Los Angeles teams.

The loss capped an inconsistent season for the Bruins. Following the conference championship game, the UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero will meet with head coach Rick Neuheisel to discuss his future.

"We can't allow this to detract from what has to be a great week of preparation. We are going to look to find out what we did that kept us from being more efficient, and we have to correct it because we are playing another great, great football team next week. We've got to go to work," Neuheisel said following the loss to the Trojans. "I'm very disappointed that it didn't go better tonight, but I can't wallow in that. I've got to move on, and that's what we're going to do."

Because of conference realignment, Oregon did not play the Bruins this season like in past years when all of the Pac-10 teams met each other.

The Ducks downed UCLA 60-13 last season at Autzen. Quarterback Darron Thomas threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns in Oregon's first ever game as a No. 1-ranked team in the nation.

Realignment also means that Oregon has an extra hurdle this season before learning their bowl fate. Last year, the victory against Oregon State put the Ducks in the BCS championship game. The year before, the team celebrated their win over the Beavers with bouquets of roses and went on to their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1995.

"I love the setup, because even if you lose a couple of games, you're maybe not out of it. You've got a shot for those other teams that come in," said Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas, who threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns in the game against the Beavers. "If you're the top dog you really don't want to give the other guys a shot to beat you. But if you maybe lose a couple of games, mess up here and there, I think you should have the opportunity to come back and play us.

"And we got to show that we can go out and show that we're the best team in the Pac-12."

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