Nov. 14, 2000
ONE FOR THE ROSES . . . Oregon looks to secure its first Rose Bowl berth in six years while establishing the school record for most wins in one season when thePac-10 counterparts meet in the 104th renewal of the most contested rivalry west of the Rocky Mountains. The Ducks seek to extend the nation's second-longest winning streak after already claiming a share of its sixth conference title, with a berth in the country's 'Grandaddy of them All' possibly up for grabs to the winner for the first time ever. The Ducks search for a way to slow the league's leading offensive and defensive contingents while hoping to snap the string that has witnessed the rivalry's host prevail as victors in each of the last three meetings. Oregon rallies around a quarterback who has accumulated a near-perfect record in a starting role, yet all eyes may be focused on a defense which has not been immune from big plays despite holding four foes under 100 rushing yards.
NATIONAL RANKINGS . . . As Oregon's success continues, so does its ascent among the national rankings. The Ducks received their highest national applause in school history in this week's Associated Press poll, climbing to fifth in the country while improving to sixth according to the USA/ESPN voters. Oregon State is ranked eighth in both polls.
HEAD COACH MIKE BELLOTTI . . . Ranking third on the Ducks' all-time winningest coaching list (48-21-0), Mike Bellotti now stands as the winningest active coach in the Pac-10 based on conference winning percentage, in addition to leading Oregon to more overall victories during his tenure than any other program in the league. Oregon's sixth-year head coach has accumulated a 30-17 record in conference encounters (.638), which moves him into 15th all-time among conference circles in terms of career winning percentage. He has played a vital role in assembling more than 17 percent (87 wins) of the University's all-time triumphs (490) in his 12-year Oregon association (six as offensive coordinator and six as head coach). Only the legendary Hugo Bezdek (72.7 -- 1906, 1913-17) has accumulated a better winning percentage than Bellotti's 69.6 percent among the program's career mentors who have coached the Ducks a minimum of three seasons. The 49-year-old former Cal State-Chico mentor owns a 10-year career head coaching mark of 71-46-2.
OREGON STATE'S DENNIS ERICKSON . . . The coach who has not suffered a losing season at the collegiate level since 1987 (and only one in 15 years) has the Beavers in post-season play for the second year in a row following a 34-year hiatus. Dennis Erickson has acquired a 16-6 record at Oregon State as well as a 129-46-1 collegiate ledger at his current post (1999- ), Miami (1989-94), Washington State (1987-88), Wyoming (1986) and Idaho (1982-85), in addition to a four-year reign with the Seattle Seahawks (1995-98).
AGAINST THE OPPOSITION . . . Oregon's Mike Bellotti has accumulated a 4-1 record vs. Oregon State (1-1 in Corvallis), while the Beavers' Dennis Erickson has been unsuccessful against the Ducks in three tries while coaching at Washington State and Oregon State.
A LOT ON THE LINE . . . Having already clinched a share of their sixth conference championship, the Ducks look to secure their fifth Rose Bowl invitation (first since 1994), along with a school-record 10th win. Since Oregon made its last post-season trip to Pasadena, no other team in the Pac-10 has made more than one appearance in the New Years Day classic.
SERIES RECORD . . . Oregon has prevailed in five of the last six meetings to increase its command of the series, which originated in 1894, to 52-41-10. However, the Beavers held serve in the Ducks' last visit to Corvallis in double overtime in 1998 (44-41) as the home team has successfully defended its home turf the last three years. It's ironic to note that Oregon actually has fared better in the series on the road, posting a 26-15-5 mark in Corvallis compared with 21-23-4 ledger in Eugene. In fact, the home team has only won 37 of the meetings (37.9%) not contested at neutral sites (8 of the games were played in Portland or Albany until 1952). The series has remained uninterrupted (other than 1943-44 due to World War II) since 1912. Six of the last 10 contests have been decided by seven points or less.
THE LAST TIME . . . The Ducks held a 210-27 yard advantage on the ground to pace their 25-14 win over Oregon State. Oregon tailback Reuben Droughns rushed for a Civil War-record 197 yards while the defense slowed Ken Simonton to only 63 as the home team never trailed in Autzen Stadium. Placekicker Nathan Villegas drilled three of his four field goals in the first half to provide Oregon a 9-0 edge before Droughns and Joey Harrington each ran for scores to put their team out front 22-0 midway through the third quarter. Harrington finished the day completing 13 of 24 passes for 146 yards while adding another 11 yards and a score rushing. The defense sacked OSU quarterback Jonathan Smith six times, including three by Saul Patu.
ABOUT OREGON STATE . . . Off to their best start in history, Dennis Erickson's No. 8-ranked Beavers (9-1, 6-1) enter the game on an eight-game home winning streak and five-game conference streak. Junior tailback Ken Simonton paces the Pac-10 in rushing yards, all-purpose yards and scoring, and is the first league rusher to run for +1,000 yards as freshman, sophomore and junior. Quarterback Jonathan Smith is 17-8 as a starter and has topped the +300-yard mark in four of the last six games -- Cal (317), UCLA (351), Stanford (324) and Washington (314). The big play OSU offense has accumulated 44 plays of +25 yards this season. As a unit, the offense leads the Pac-10 in scoring (33.60) and total offense (412.70), and has scored at least 30 points in all seven league meetings. As a defense, the Beavers are among the top two in the Pac-10 in total defense (1st), scoring defense (1st), rushing defense (1st), and passing defense (2nd). Among the team's defensive leaders, sophomore cornerback Dennis Weathersby is a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, while Terrence Carroll and LaDairis Jackson rank among the conference leaders in interceptions (2nd - 4) and sacks (3rd - 10), respectively. After four field goals last week vs. Arizona, kicker Ryan Cesca is 13-15 on the season (including four +40-yarders and a long of 49). As a team, OSU holds a 94-57 fourth-quarter scoring edge over its opponents. In the red zone, OSU is converting at a .795 clip.
GAMES TO REMEMBER ARE PLAYED IN NOVEMBER . . . Mike Bellotti has been quick to emphasize that it's not how well you start a season as much as how you finish. If past history is any indication, it would appear the Ducks are in good shape. Under Oregon's sixth-year head coach, the program has accumulated a record of15-2 during the final month of the regular season. Yet, one of those two losses was administered by Oregon State (1998) the last time the Ducks traveled to Corvallis. (The other by Arizona State in 1997.) Including Oregon's last Rose Bowl campaign (1994), it has accumulated an 18-2 November register.
PAC-10 CHAMPIONS . . . The Ducks earned a share of their sixth conference championship, as well as guaranteed themselves a ninth post-season appearance in 12 years, but nothing more. Oregon had previously tied for league titles in 1919, 1933 and 1957, while winning crowns outright in 1948 and `94. Ironically, the Ducks did not go to the Rose Bowl in `33 or `48. Conference members voted to send a 6-0 (10-1 overall) California team instead of 7-0 (9-2) Oregon. (Norm Van Brocklin's team did get to play in the Cotton Bowl.) However, the 4-1 Ducks (9-1) did get bypassed in the bowl picture in `33 when Stanford (4-1/8-2-1) made its way to Pasadena.
MOST-PLAYED RIVALRIES . . . Only six other Division I rivalries in the countryhave transpired more often than Oregon-Oregon State's Civil War, which originated in 1894, and none west of the Mississippi River. Listed below are the confrontations that have been played most frequently: (*The game won't be played until Nov. 24)
Gms Opponents (1st Played) Gms Opponents (1st Played) 110 Minnesota-Wisconsin (1890) 105 Miami (OH)-Cincinnati (1888) 109 Missouri-Kansas (1891) 105 N. Carolina-Virginia (1892) 107 Nebraska-Kansas (1892) 104 Auburn-Georgia (1892) 107* Texas-Texas A&M (1894) 104 Oregon-Oregon St. (1894)
HOME SWEET HOME . . . Oregon's status among the nation's best active home-field winning streaks has climbed to second and and has moved into a tie for second in conference history. The league's longest home winning streak was set by California (26) from 1919-23, followed by USC (20, 1927-29). The following is a list of the nation's current successful strings:
Wins School Last Loss 34 Florida State Miami (17-16), Nov. 16, 1991 20 Oregon UCLA (39-31), Oct. 11, 1997 16 Mississippi State Mississippi (15-14), Nov. 29, 1997
BUT THIS ONE'S ON THE ROAD . . . Although Oregon's success away from home hasn't been quite as pronounced, it has enjoyed some success on the road as well. The Ducks have won six of their last seven contests away from Autzen Stadium, including their last five Pac-10 road encounters .
MORE STREAKS OF NOTE . . . Listed below are additional strings or records that Oregon seeks to establish or duplicate:
Equaled its longest single-season winning streak (8 games) of 1933
Atttempts to post 10 wins in one season for the first time ever
Attempts to match its longest conference-game winning streak (13, 1947-49)
Attempts to win eight league games for first time ever (7-0, 1948, 7-1, 1994)
Seven consecutive winning seasons is school's longest stretch since 1928-35
SECOND IN THE COUNTRY . . . With Western Michigan's loss to Central Michigan Saturday, Oregon's eight-game winning streak now ranks second in the country behind only Oklahoma's nine-game string.
15 OF 16 . . . No other Division I school in the country has posted a better record over the past 16 games than Oregon, as it stands as one of only two programs (along with Florida State) to post 15 wins during span. That successful stretch is the Ducks' most impressive since duplicating that feat during the 1947-48 seasons.
ALL IN THIS TOGETHER . . . Even though the Ducks' offense was in need of every one of its 565 yards of total offense (most since 1998's 664 yards vs. Stanford) it accumulated in last week's 56-55 double-overtime victory, you certainly won't observe the Oregon offense finding fault with the defense for giving up 667 yards to Arizona State (most on record dating back through 1977 season). The previous week, Oregon's defense limited Arizona to only 217 yards to compensate for the offense being able to generate 260 total yards (lowest Oregon offensive output since 1997) in its 14-10 win.
IN POSSESSION OF A WIN . . . Oregon has won the battle of possession in all seven games this season, claiming a 33:21-to-26:39 advantage. However, that time of possession edge has increased in the Ducks' favor to 33:56-26:06 in their six victories.
1st DOWN . . . Much of Oregon's success has been its ability to dictate first-down yardage, both offensively and defensively. Through the first seven games, the Ducks have accumulated 1,365 yards (5.2 avg., 264 plays) total offense on first down while yielding 1066 (4.8 avg., 220 plays). However, Oregon's last two opponents have held the upper hand on first downs, with Arizona outgaining the Ducks, 3.3 avg. to 2.3 avg., and Arizona State holding an upper hand, 6.4 avg. to 5.4 avg.
JUST WIN BABY . . . From a statistical standpoint, junior quarterback Joey Harrington might have appeared to be off his game at times this season in comparison to a year ago, when he finished the year second in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency(145.5) with a rating that would have been good enough for seventh in the country had he met NCAA minimums. This year's completion percentage of 52.0 percent compares with 53.2 percent from last season. Yet all he does is win! Harrington improved his personal record to 13-1 in games he has started, and 15-1 in outings he has played a major role in for the Ducks.
CAPTAIN COMEBACK . . . Included among Joey Harrington's 16 primary appearances over the last two years were six come-from-behind wins, with the 14-point deficit in the final 5:47 of regulation three weeks ago at Arizona State representing his biggest comeback. In fact, the Portland junior has brought the Ducks back from fourth-quarter deficits each of the past three weeks.
HARRINGTON WINS II . . . Former Oregon quarterback greats Bill Musgrave (1986-90) and Bob Berry (1962-64) are acknowledged as the Ducks' most successful signal callers in terms of generating victories, with Musgrave accumulating a 25-10 record (.714) in games he started and finished, while Berry was responsible for leading Oregon to a 21-8-1 ledger (.717). Joey Harrington may have some catching up to do in terms of wins, yet his winning percentage as a starter (.929) certainly speaks for itself.
HARRINGTON'S HEROICS . . . This season, quarterback Joey Harrington has managed to throw for the most yards of his collegiate career three times (362 at Wisconsin, 382 at USC, 434 at Arizona State), equaled an Autzen Stadium record for touchdown passes vs. Idaho (4), tied the school record for scoring tosses at Arizona State (6) and staked the Ducks to a 23-3 fourth-quarter lead over Washington. He joined five other standouts by throwing for a quartet of scoring tosses (three in the first half) at home. The list includes Akili Smith (twice), Danny O'Neil, Dan Fouts (twice) and Tom Blanchard, and equaled O'Neil's school record for total TD tosses from the 1994 Rose Bowl season.
MO POWER . . . It's hard to deny that Oregon's running game falls directly on the shoulders of junior tailback Maurice Morris when the former all-time junior college rushing leader represents better than 66 percent (1009 yards) of the team's entire output. The Pacific-10 Conference's third-leading rusher (28th nationally -100.9 avg.) ran for more yards in his first eight games in a Duck uniform than any other newcomer in school history. Yet since accumulating 114 yards rushing four weeks ago vs. Arizona against a team ranked fifth in the country vs. the run (70.5 avg.) at that time (his fourth 100-yard output of the year), he has been limited to a total of 185 yards in his last three appearances. He settled for 91 yards three weeks ago at Arizona State while playing sparingly in the fourth quarter due to a rib injury, and settled for 48 and 46 yards, respectively at Washington State and vs. California.