No. 7 Oregon Opens Pac-10 Play Against USC

Sept. 18, 2001

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CONFERENCE OPENER . . . Two teams who have developed a habit of nail-biting finishes against one another in recent years collide in front of a national television audience. Oregon hopes to continue its most successful start in three years while extending its league record Pac-10-game home winning streak. The Ducks conclude a lengthy homestand before taking to the road for three games, searching for their fifth straight conference-opening victory. One of the league's best passing offense's tests one of the Pac-10's most stingy aerial defenses as Oregon seeks unprecedented success against one of the loop's traditional forerunners. The Ducks look to extend the nation's second-longest home-field advantage while adding to its best 20-game stretch ever.

NATIONAL RANKINGS . . . After breaking into this year's pre-season rankings for the first time ever, the Ducks are tabbed No. 7 this week in both the Associated Press and the USA Today/ESPN polls. Oregon climbed to an all-time high of fifth last season by AP before dropping the regular-season finale at Oregon State.

HEAD COACH MIKE BELLOTTI . . . Ranking third on the Ducks' all-time winningest coaching list (51-22-0), 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 seventh-year head coach has accumulated a 30-18 record in Pac-10 encounters (.625), which moves him into 15th all-time among conference circles in terms of career winning percentage and tied for 22nd in career league victories. He has played a vital role in assembling better than 18 percent (90 wins) of the University's all-time triumphs (493) in his 13-year Oregon association (six as offensive coordinator and seven as head coach). Only Hugo Bezdek (72.7 -- 1906, 1913-17) has accumulated a better winning percentage than Bellotti's 69.9% among the program's mentors who have coached the Ducks a minimum of three seasons. The 50-year-old former Cal State-Chico mentor owns a 12-year career head coaching mark of 74-47-2.

USC'S PETE CARROLL . . . The Trojans' first-year head coach returns to the college game for the first time in 18 seasons following six years as a defensive coordinator in the NFL and head coaching stints with the New York Jets and New England Patriots. The San Francisco native was a two-time all-conference free safety at Pacific, where he coached for four years during two separate stints. During his 10-year collegiate tenure as an assistant coach at Pacific (1974-76, 1983), Arkansas (1977), Iowa State (1978), Ohio State (1979) and North Carolina State (1980-82) and 12 years as an NFL aide with Buffalo (1984), Minnesota (1985-89), New York Jets (1990-93) and San Francisco (1995-96), he served under such notable head coaches as Lou Holtz, Earle Bruce, Bud Grant and George Seiffert.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS . . . Three of the last four Oregon-USC confrontations have been decided by four points or less, with an Oregon TD in the final two minutes expanding last year's final margin to 28-17.

18 of 20 . . . Since the Ducks closed the 1999 season with six straight wins to go along with last year's 10-2 ledger, no other Division I school in the country has posted a better record over the past 20 games than Oregon. In fact, the current successful stretch is the Ducks' most impressive 20-game span in school history. The five other schools to equal Oregon's current 20-game pace are Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech.

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