Ducks shift attention to Civil War

As a devoted fan of the Oakland Raiders, senior linebacker Michael Clay usually spends Sundays watching the NFL — having celebrated a win with his Oregon football teammates the day before.

This past weekend was different. The No. 5 Ducks (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12) lost in overtime to Stanford, costing them control of their own destiny in the BCS and Pac-12 championship races.

And so, other than sneaking peaks at a restaurant TV showing football while Clay was out to dinner, he skipped his normal routine. He was "kind of sick of football," and instead found himself watching, at one point, "Finding Bigfoot" on Animal Planet.

"They still haven't found him," Clay reported Monday.

In at least one case, then, the Ducks' sense of humor was intact as they returned to practice, and focused their attention on Saturday's noon Civil War in Corvallis.

Sticking to its routine, Oregon had positional meetings before practice — the tone was somewhat "somber," Clay conceded — but there was no full team meeting, no "come to Jesus" speech to get the Ducks refocused on the Beavers, UO coach Chip Kelly said.

"It's a huge game," Kelly said. "The state of Oregon's on the line."

The Ducks weren't just licking their wounds Monday, however. They were also questioning their own effort, against a Stanford team that controlled the line of scrimmage against Oregon's offense.

"Stanford came out and played with more effort than us," guard Nick Cody said. "That's the first time that's happened in a long time, since I've been here."

It will be Saturday before the Ducks prove they can rebound in that regard. In terms of attitude, at least, coaches didn't notice spirits lagging Monday.

"We practiced really well; I didn't see that," offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. "Guys weren't in doing cartwheels or anything, but we had a really good practice, a very productive practice, a very efficient practice. Our communication was good, and so that's all we can gauge.

"That's what you want to see, is guys get in 'fix' mode. I love our guys. They came out and practiced really well. We were making a pact — we closed the door on that meeting, closed the door on that game and move on."

The Ducks have experience bouncing back from a heartbreaking defeat for the Civil War. Just last year they lost 38-35 at home to USC, and a week later beat Oregon State, 49-21, also in Autzen Stadium.

"It's a bitter feeling," defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli said. "But we've got to get over it quick."

A win in the Civil War keeps the Ducks alive in the Pac-12 title race, and then rooting for UCLA to beat Stanford later Saturday. In that case, Oregon would host the Bruins in the conference title game.

A USC upset of Notre Dame on Saturday evening keeps Oregon alive in the BCS championship hunt. But when ticking off what the Ducks still have to play for, Clay went another direction.

"Pride," Clay said. "It's the Civil War. How can you not be ready for the Civil War?"

Also at stake over the next couple of weeks could be Kenjon Barner's chances of winning the Doak Walker Award, for which he was named a finalist Monday. Barner was joined by Johnathan Franklin of UCLA and Montee Ball of Wisconsin.

All-time UO leading rusher LaMichael James won the award in 2010, and it remains the most prestigious individual award ever given to a Duck. Barner is sixth nationally in rushing, just behind Franklin and just ahead of Ball, having run for just 133 yards over the last two weeks after setting a UO record with 321 at USC.

The Maxwell Football Foundation on Monday did not select either Barner or De'Anthony Thomas as finalists for its national player of the year award, after naming both semifinalists earlier this fall. But it did name Kelly a semifinalist for coach of the year, along with Oregon State's Mike Riley, UCLA's Jim Mora and Stanford's David Shaw, among others.

The Davey O'Brien quarterback award also cut its watch list from 16 semifinalists to three finalists Monday, and Oregon's Marcus Mariota did not make the cut.

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