No. 8 Oregon Football Heads South For Holiday Bowl Matchup With No. 12 Texas
Dec. 20, 2000
IT'S A HOLIDAY . . . The Pacific-10 Conference co-champions will attempt to conclude their fourth consecutive post-season appearance with a second straight bowl victory as well as their first victory ever over the University of Texas in five tries. One of the nation's annual post-season newcomers tackles one of the most storied program's in collegiate football circles in a game that could catapult Oregon to its first season-ending top-10 national ranking in 52 years. The Ducks' offensive catalyst will be forced to contend with one of the top defense's in the country as Oregon makes its first San Diego appearance since 1988. The winningest program in thePac-10 over the past six years (48-22) seeks to rid itself of the disappointment of dropping its regular-season finale while possessing the added incentive of shooting for its most victories in a single campaign in the program's 105-year history.
NATIONAL RANKINGS . . . Oregon #8 (Associated Press), #11 (USA Today/ESPN), Texas #12 (Associated Press, USA Today/ESPN). Prior to their regular-season ending loss, the Ducks had soared to their highest national ranking in school history. They had climbed as high as fifth (AP) and sixth (USA Today/ESPN), respectively, which surpassed the previous best of seventh (AP) in 1964. Oregon did not break into this year's Top 25 until Sept. 24. Finishing last season ranked among the nation's top 25 in the final poll (19th AP, 18th USA Today/ESPN) for the first time in four years, the Ducks' highest showing at the end of the year (9th) occurred in 1948.
HEAD COACH MIKE BELLOTTI . . . Ranking third on the Ducks' all-time winningest coaching list (48-22-0), 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 30-18 record in conference encounters (.625), which moves him into 15th all-time among conference circles in terms of career winning percentage. In addition, this year's bowl appearance marks the Ducks' fifth under Bellotti's guidance -- eclipsing Rich Brooks' four for the most in school history. 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 68.6 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 (he turns 50 on Dec. 21) owns a 10-year career head coaching mark of 71-47-2.
SHOOTING FOR THE TOP . . . Assuring itself of its seventh nine-win season in school history (and its fourth in seven years), Oregon strives for its first 10-victory campaign ever. This marks the fourth time the Ducks have possessed the opportunity to post the elusive 10th win, with the previous three tries (1948, 1994 and 1995) proving unsuccessful in post-season play.
BOWL HISTORY . . . Prior to 1989, Oregon had made only six post-season appearances in the first 93 years in the program's history. Since then, the school has accumulated nine bowl invitations in the last 12 seasons -- an accomplishment surpassed by only 13 Division I schools in the country. Including the Ducks' last Southern California bowl appearance (1995 Rose Bowl), the school will be represented in its sixth post-season opportunity in the last seven years. Oregon has accumulated a 5-9 ledger in games following the regular season.
SEASON REVIEW . . . Six turnovers and a 14-point first-quarter deficit proved to be too much to overcome as Oregon saw its eight-game winning streak snapped by Oregon State, 23-13. The Ducks faced their largest deficit of the season (17-0) before pulling within 10 points early in the final stanza, only to lose the football at the Beavers' 10-yard line.....Quarterback Joey Harrington threw for one touchdown and ran for two more to pace Oregon's 25-17 win over California. The Ducks resumed their formula of success, possessing the football almost nine minutes more than the opposition, winning the field position battle and limiting the Bears under 100 yards rushing.....Placekicker Josh Frankel nailed the longest two field goals of his collegiate career to escape a personal slump and propel Oregon to its second overtime victory in as many weeks, 27-24 over Washington State. The Ducks made the most of their 24 minutes they had the football in regulation as well as a 42-yard interception return for a TD by Rashad Bauman before providing the tying score at the 9:08 mark.....The Ducks scored two TDs in the final 3:21 of regulation to send the game into overtime before denying Arizona State a two-point conversion in the second extra session to come away with a 56-55 win. Oregon needed all of its 565 yards of total offense as well as Harrington's six scoring passes to overcome a 14-point deficit.....Oregon's defense made its pair of first-half touchdowns hold up over the final two-and-a-half quarters while the Ducks grabbed sole possession of the Pac-10 lead with a 14-10 win over Arizona. Wide receiver Marshaun Tucker was on the receiving end of both of Harrington's scoring tosses while the Ducks limited the Wildcats to only 17 yards on the ground.....Harrington threw for a career-high 382 yards and four touchdowns as the Ducks posted their third straight win over USC, 28-17. Oregon countered the Trojans' opening scoring drive and grabbed a lead it would never relinquish early in the second quarter for its 11th consecutive Pac-10 win.....Oregon built a 23-3 cushion through the first three quarters (accumulating a 323-162-yard total offense advantage) before holding off the nation's sixth-ranked team for the second week in a row en route to a 23-16 win over Washington. Maurice Morris rushed for 152 yards while the Ducks maintained possession of the football 11 minutes more than the visitors for their fifth win in seven tries over the Huskies.....A suffocating defense held UCLA to minus nine yards rushing while Morris picked up 139 yards and two TDs on the ground to fuel Oregon's 29-10 win over the Bruins. The Ducks overcame a 10-10 deadlock after jumping out to a 10-0 lead, and allowed the visitors to penetrate past midfield only four times all day.....Oregon capped five of its first six drives of the day with touchdowns while converting all four red zone ventures in the end zone to fuel a commanding 42-13 win over Idaho. Joey Harrington tied an Autzen Stadium record with his fourth scoring pass of the game early in the second half before the Ducks substituted liberally the rest of the way.....Big plays foiled the Ducks' attempt to upset the fifth-ranked team in the country as it fell to Wisconsin, 27-23. Despite a pair of long touchdown runs by the Badgers and a blocked punt for a score, Oregon appeared to regain control following a Matt Smith 47-yard interception return for a TD, before an 83-yard gallop set up the home team's winning score.....An inspired Oregon defense allowed its fewest total offensive yards since 1962 (103) and held the opposition to negative rushing yards (-3) for the first time in five years in defeating Nevada, 36-7. The Ducks scored 21 unanswered second-half points to set a school record with its 15th consecutive home win.
SERIES RECORD . . . Oregon hasn't enjoyed a lot of success against the program which will be making its 40th post-season appearance in several weeks. In fact, the Ducks have come up empty against Texas in all four previous meetings, although the two programs have not squared off in 29 years. Between 1941-71, the Longhorns prevailed over the Ducks, 169-40. Included in the series history was a single-game school-record 71 points allowed by the Oregon defense in the 1941 season finale.
THE LAST TIME . . . Texas was able to complete only three of six passes for 38 yards, but instead, ran for 381 yards to key the Longhorns' 35-7 victory in Austin. The hosts posted points on the scoreboard in each quarter and possessed a 35-0 advantage before Oregon scored on a 44-yard Harvey Winn-to-Leland Glass scoring pass with only 5 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the game.