Colorado-Oregon Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 23, 2012
Despite Oregon having beaten its first seven opponents by an average of nearly five touchdowns, it is currently outside the top two of the BCS standings. The second-ranked Ducks probably won't gain much ground if the status quo holds and they post another lopsided victory over visiting Colorado in a Pac-12 matchup Saturday. Oregon improved to 4-0 in the conference with a 43-21 victory over Arizona State last Thursday but is behind Alabama, Florida and Kansas State in the latest standings. It debuted at No. 3 last week despite being ranked second in both major polls factoring into the BCS standings. The Ducks have won by an average of 32.3 points and beaten two ranked teams, then-No. 22 Arizona 49-0 on Sept. 22 and then-No. 23 Washington 52-21 on Oct. 6. Both squads have since fallen out of the Top 25. They likely won't get much of a challenge from Colorado (1-6, 1-3) before facing No. 10 USC, California, No. 19 Stanford and No. 7 Oregon State next month to end the season - a stretch that should improve Oregon's BCS standing if it can run the table. Coach Chip Kelly, though, said his players won't take the Buffaloes lightly. "We keep the same approach, so it doesn't matter who you're playing," Kelly said. "If you're consistent in your approach and what you do, then we anticipate that not being an issue." Oregon's offense has been a major reason for its dominance, ranking second in the country in scoring at 51.0 points per game and eighth in total yards at 529.1 per contest. Kenjon Barner ran 16 times for 143 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over Arizona State, while quarterback Marcus Mariota added 135 yards and a score on the ground. It was the redshirt freshman Mariota's best rushing performance, but Kelly insisted it wasn't planned. "It's always predicated on what the defense gives us," Kelly said. "We don't have designed quarterback runs where it's snapped to him and he's just running. When the quarterback is taking off it's a scramble play or a read play. "The one thing with Marcus is if the defense dictates it, he's going to run. He can hurt (defenses)." Mariota said he'll do whatever it takes to keep Oregon winning ballgames. "It all depends on the game plan," Mariota said. "If it happens that I have to run the ball at little bit more like this last game, then I will." The Colorado defense has already made itself familiar with the Ducks' attack, though it may not matter much. The Buffaloes have given up at least 451 yards in each of their last six games and allowing a conference-worst 489.0 per game overall. "Them boys is really fast," safety Terrel Smith said. "I don't know where you teach that speed, but their game speed is really fast. We've got a big task in front of us." Colorado gave up 458 total yards in a 50-6 loss to then-No. 11 USC last Saturday and has been outscored 143-37 in losing three straight since winning 35-34 at Washington State on Sept. 22. The Buffaloes turned the ball over six times against the Trojans, including three interceptions by Jordan Webb. The redshirt junior quarterback, who transfered from Kansas prior to this season, has completed only 55.7 percent of his passes, which ranks 10th among the conference's 12 starters. Last year, Barner ran for two first-quarter touchdowns and 115 yards overall as Oregon scored 29 first-quarter points en route to a 45-2 win. The Ducks rolled up 527 yards despite having the ball barely more than 23 minutes.
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