Ducks Prepare for Televised Civil War at Autzen Stadium Saturday
Nov. 27, 2001
UNFINISHED BUSINESS . . . Oregon searches for a school-record 10th regular-season victory while seeking an undisputed claim to a Pac-10 title it let slip through its fingers a year ago when it hosts the most contested rivalry west of the Rocky Mountains. One of the top total offensive arsensals in the league butts heads with one of the conference's better defenses for the second time in as many games as the Ducks bid farewell to 13 seniors who have accumulated more wins during a five-year span than any other class in school history. One of the most prolific Oregon quarterbacks ever looks to make amends for his most disappointing performance as a collegian while a pair of the school's running backs vie for the right combination of 165 yards on the ground in order to join another elite league tandem. The Ducks hope to hold serve in the series' 105th edition that has favored the home team in each of the past four years, while the average margin of victory has been less than six points a game in six of the last eight meetings.
NATIONAL RANKINGS . . . After dropping out of the nation's Top-10 for the first time all season Oct. 21, the Ducks have ascended to their highest national rankings ever -- fourth by the Associated Press and fifth in the USA Today/ESPN poll.
HEAD COACH MIKE BELLOTTI . . . Ranking third on the Ducks' all-time winningest coaching list (58-23-0), 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 36-19 record in Pac-10 encounters (.655), which moves him into 12th all-time among conference circles in terms of career winning percentage and 20th in career league victories. He has played a vital role in assembling better than 19 percent (97 wins) of the University's all-time triumphs (500) 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 71.6% 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 81-48-2.
BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPIONS . . . Chosen as pre-season favorites for the first time in the poll's 41 years in a vote of West Coast media members who cover the Pac-10 on a regular basis, Oregon has undoubtedly lived up to expectations. Securing no worse than a share of its seventh league title ever (and third in the last eight years), the Ducks have claimed back-to-back conference championships for the first time in school history. It marks the first time a Pac-10 school has won shares of consecutive crowns since UCLA did so from 1997-98, and the 22nd time in league annals.
ON A ROLL . . . While Oregon has posted nine wins or more on only eight occasions in the program's 106-year history, four of them have come under the guidance of head coach Mike Bellotti (9-1 in 2001, 10-2 in 2000, 9-3 in 1999 and 9-3 in 1995).
SEASON REVIEW . . . A 2-yard scoring plunge from Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington with 4:03 remaining to play as well as two defensive stands proved to be enough to overcome 22nd-ranked Wisconsin, 31-28. The Ducks' defense allowed Badger quarterback Jim Sorgi to complete only one of his last six pass attempts in addition to forcing one fumble over the final seven minutes of the game. . . . . The Ducks broke free from a 10-10 deadlock with 1:16 remaining in the first half and sealed the win with a fourth-quarter score to defeat Utah, 24-10. Despite possessing the football more than 10 minutes less than the Utes, Oregon's defense limited the visitors to only 37 yards rushing in the second half while holding them scoreless four times into Oregon territory during the final 30 minutes . . . . . A 61-yard drive in 44 seconds provided the backdrop for Joey Harrington's eighth fourth-quarter career comeback as the Ducks rebounded for a 24-22 win over USC. Oregon watched its21-6 advantage slip away into a 22-21 deficit as three plays accounted for 213 of the Trojans' 451 yards of offensive output . . . . . The school's top rushing total in three years and four interceptions proved enough to pace Oregon's first road win of the season and a 38-21 victory over Utah State. Maurice Morris rushed for a single-game high 175 yards and Joey Harrington completed 17 of 24 passes for 261 yards and two scores while cornerback Steve Smith picked off his fourth pass in two weeks . . . . . Oregon accumulated its highest total offensive output in three years (607 yards) and converted all five turnovers into touchdowns to go on and defeat Arizona, 63-28. Joey Harrington threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more as the Ducks boasted a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since 1994 . . . . . Oregon converted its first three drives into touchdowns while yielding a season-low 322 yards of total offense to spearhead a 48-7 win over California. Quarterback Joey Harrington didn't attempt a pass in the second half and the defense came up with five turnovers for the second week in a row to allow the fewest points in a league game in six years . . . . . A blocked Oregon punt, a recovered onside kick and an interception led to 21 fourth-quarter points and Stanford's 49-42 win, snapping the Ducks' 23-game home winning streak. Special teams returns for touchdowns by Keenan Howry (punt) and Onterrio Smith (kickoff) were not enough to help Oregon overcome only 132 yards of total offense in the second half . . . . . Oregon utilized a record-setting rushing attack while thwarting a final-minute Cougar drive to hold off Washington State, 24-17. The Ducks threw for a season-low 119 yards but limited the nation's No. 3 offense to 394 yards total offense while running for 446 yards on a defense which came into the game allowing a per-game average of only 93.1 yards . . . . . The Ducks took to the air behind 319 yards and six touchdowns passing from Joey Harrington to race to a 42-24 verdict over Arizona State. Keenan Howry was the recipient of four scoring strikes while Onterrio Smith rumbled for better than 100 yards on the ground for the second week in a row, with Oregon's defense holding the Sun Devils 14 points and 120 yards below their season averages . . . . . Oregon responded to a 20-14 deficit by capping a 70-yard scoring drive with a Joey Harrington-to-Josh Line 1-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter to post a 21-20 win over UCLA and its first win in the Rose Bowl in six years. The Ducks benefitted from Maurice Morris rushing for 103 of his 129 yards in the first half while the defense held the Bruins to only three points on consecutive second-quarter drives inside the Oregon 15-yard line before UCLA misfired on a 50-yard field goal try in the final seconds.
SERIES RECORD . . . Oregon State has won two of the last three meetings to snap Oregon's four-game win streak, however the Ducks still hold a 52-42-10 lead in the series which began in 1894. Although the home team has prevailed in each of the last four outings, the Beavers have managed a 23-21-4 all-time edge in games played in Eugene. Furthermore, the home team has won only 39.5 percent (38 of 96) of the meetings contested at on-campus sites. Oregon State last won in Autzen Stadium in 1993, 15-12. Yet coming off last year's 23-13 victory in Corvallis, the Beavers have not posted consecutive wins in the 104-game series since 1973-74. The series has remained uninterrupted (other than 1943-44 due to World War II) since 1912.
THE LAST TIME . . . Quarterback Jonathan Smith completed touchdown passes on Oregon State's opening two drives and the Beavers maintained their 10-point halftime advantage (17-7) to extinguish the Ducks' Rose Bowl hopes and forge a three-way tie for the Pac-10 title. Oregon's Joey Harrington completed 24 of 46 passes for 333 yards but was victimized by five interceptions and one lost fumble.