Ducks set for major test against Bruins

EUGENE — Jim Mora wants to make sure one loss doesn't derail UCLA.

The No. 12 Bruins, coming off a disheartening loss to Stanford, have a chance for redemption — in a big way — against the No. 2 Oregon Ducks today.

"I don't think any one game ever really defines you. Whether you've arrived or you're not very good or whatever, I think it's your body of work," Mora said. "So far our body of work is for the good. It's got to get better at the end of the season to see where we are."

The coach added: "There is a process to building something. There is a process to going through a season."

But the Bruins (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) face a considerable challenge in Oregon (7-0, 4-0), which is favored by more than three touchdowns. UCLA has not won at Autzen Stadium since 2004, and the team hasn't defeated the Ducks since a 16-0 blanking in 2007.

The two teams last met in 2011, when Oregon downed UCLA 49-31 in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game.

The Ducks, meanwhile, are looking to show they belong in the conversation for this season's national championship. Oregon is ranked No. 3 in the initial BCS standings, behind Alabama and Florida State.

The Ducks are averaging just over 643 yards in total offense and 57.6 points per game, second among FBS-level teams in both categories, but they've just played one game against a ranked opponent this season —a 45-24 victory over then-No. 16 Washington at Husky Stadium.

Oregon is coming off a 62-38 victory at home last weekend over Washington State.

"Of course we like where this season is going and how we have played so far but we really try to not pay attention to the rankings," Ducks receiver John Huff said. "We take it one day at a time, one week at a time, and just continue trying to get better."

For Oregon the next big test comes quickly: The Ducks next travel to face No. 8 Stanford in a Thursday night game on Nov. 7.

Here are five things to look for when UCLA visits Oregon today:

DAT'S RETURN — Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas says he plans to play this weekend. Thomas hurt his right ankle on the opening kickoff in Oregon's 55-16 victory over California on Sept. 28, slipping on slick turf from a driving rain. He's missed three games since then, although he has suited up for each one. Thomas ran for 338 yards and six touchdowns in Oregon's first three games this season. "I'm ready, I'm hungry and ready to get back on the field," Thomas said.

JAMES UNCERTAINTY — It wasn't immediately known whether UCLA junior running back Jordon James would play against the Ducks. James, who has missed the past two games because of an ankle injury, ran for more than 100 yards in each of the Bruins' first three games, including 155 yards rushing against Nebraska. UCLA could use his help: The team ran for just 74 yards in the loss to Stanford.

DEPLETED OFFENSIVE LINE — Mid-season injuries have hit UCLA's offensive line, and today the Bruins are expected to play three freshmen there: Alex Redmond at right guard, Caleb Benenoch at right tackle and Scott Quessenberry at left guard. The Bruins have played 17 true freshmen this season. "For us, we're going to play the best players, the guys who give us the best chance to win, and right now that's some freshmen. So we're playing a bunch of them," Mora said.

MARIOTA'S MARCH — Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota remains one of the top picks for many Heisman Trophy pundits. So far this season, he's thrown for 2,051 yards and 19 touchdowns, while running for 493 yards and nine more scores. He has thrown a touchdown and run for one in the last nine straight games. And he's made 265 pass attempts without an interception, an ongoing Pac-12 record that dates back to last season.

HUNDLEY'S GOOD, TOO — UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is averaging nearly 277 yards passing and 325 total offensive yards a game. He's run for 287 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 1,661 yards and 13 scores this season. "I don't think he's as fast as Marcus, but he's a real strong guy and he's elusive," Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. "He can extend plays and whenever a quarterback can do that, just like our guy, it's tough."

Share This Story