Feature: Cal and Oregon Gear Up for Pac-10 Showdown

Sept. 26, 2007

Associated Press - Last season Oregon was 4-0 and ranked No. 11 when the team headed south to face California.

The Ducks lost 45-24, starting a slide that saw them lose five of their next eight games for a 7-6 finish. Cal, at the time ranked 16th, went on to win five of their next seven and wrap up the season 10-3.

Oregon is again 4-0 and ranked No. 11, while Cal is No. 6 and also undefeated as the Golden Bears ready to visit Eugene.

Oregon coach Mike Bellotti believes any similarity ends with the record and the ranking. This team is more resilient that the Ducks of a year ago, he says.

'I believe so, simply for having gone through it last year. This group of kids is a year older and a year wiser,' Bellotti said. 'I think there is a more concerted effort to understand that there are times things aren't going to go right and we've got to change it.

'There's good leadership. Obviously, ability is one thing but the character and the consistency are the things we've preached - the mental toughness that carries you through those times. I think we've got that.'

There's familiarity in the programs, as Cal coach Jeff Tedford was once Oregon offensive coordinator under Bellotti.

And both teams bring in high-powered offenses: Cal, with quarterback Nate Longshore and tailback Justin Forsett, and Oregon, with quarterback Dennis Dixon and tailback Jonathan Stewart.

Stewart ranks 11th nationally in rushing, with an average of nearly 126 yards a game, while Forsett is ranked 14th with 121 yards. Overall, Oregon has the fourth-best rushing offense in the county while the Bears are 23rd. Both teams are averaging more than 40 points a game.

'Somebody's got to slow the other down,' Teford said.

Last season, Forsett rushed for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Ducks, while Longshore passed for three scores and ran for another. Dixon passed for 263 yards and a pair of TDs, but he was intercepted three times.

Oregon has a seven-game winning streak against the Golden Bears at Autzen Stadium. Tedford has yet to win in Eugene with the Bears.

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HONORS: Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon of Oregon, California safety Thomas DeCoud and UCLA kick returner Matthew Slater won Pac-10 player of the week honors.

Dixon completed 27 of 36 passes for a career-high 367 yards and four touchdowns in Oregon's 55-31 victory over Stanford. He also ran 15 yards for a score.

It is the second time in three weeks Dixon has earned offensive player honors in the league.

DeCoud had 10 tackles, a sack and an interception in California's 45-27 victory over Arizona. He also forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and recovered a fumble that set up another score for the Golden Bears.

Slater returned three kickoffs for 127 yards, including an 85-yard return for a touchdown that proved to be the winning score in UCLA's 44-31 victory over Washington.

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