Cal - Oregon TV viewer guide
Game day: September 28, time TBD
Stadium: Autzen Stadium – Eugene, Ore.
Cal - Oregon TV information: Pac-12 Networks
Story lines: There has been a regime change in Eugene… sort of. After taking the Ducks to four consecutive BCS bowl games, Chip Kelly initially decided he was coming back for another year before ultimately taking the NFL head coaching vacancy in Philadelphia. With all the recent success Oregon has had, it wasn’t at all surprising when offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was promoted to head honcho. Among all the changes he has made, the biggest one Helfrich inserted was probably switching the school motto from “Win the Day” to “Win Today” (more aerodynamic). In other words, not much is different in Oregon—that offense was still firing on all cylinders in Helfrich’s first public display of it in the spring game, when the offense put up 65 points. No big change of the guard to see here; Helfrich is just the next man up, as he put it at 2013 Pac-12 Football Media Day.
There also won’t be much of a drop-off in talent from the 12-1 squad that cruised past Kansas State 35-17 in the Fiesta Bowl, either. Sure, the Ducks lost a couple of first-round draft picks in No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan and No. 20 pick Kyle Long, but the majority of last year’s squad that was perhaps a fumble recovery away from a spot in the BCS championship game is back. As a result, the Ducks have been picked to win the Pac-12, edging out Stanford by four first-place votes in the preseason media poll. This includes quarterback Marcus Mariota (say it with me now: “MARR-ee-oh-tuh”) who threw for 2,677 yards, ran for 752 more, threw 32 passes to paydirt (compared to just six picks) and ran for another five as a redshirt freshman. It was such an impressive rookie season for Mariota that he has LaMichael James thinking he can be the best quarterback in Oregon history. What will be in store for the redshirt sophomore in 2013?
[Related: 2013 Oregon football schedule]
The other thing Mariota’s 2012 did was take the spotlight away from De’Anthony Thomas a bit. The Black Mamba is still as dangerous as ever, however, and you can expect more of this and this from him in 2013. And, with guys like the speedster Bralon Addison and Josh Huff in the receiving core, this offense figures to be really, really, really good (pointspointspointspointspoints).
So, what can Cal do to keep up with the Quack Attack? The Golden Bears tried this back in 2010 and only lost by two, but that was at home and I’m sure Sonny Dykes won’t employ the old “injury” tactic that Jeff Tedford did three years ago. Unless you have a defense like Stanford’s, you’re gonna have to score a ton yourself. Luckily, Cal now has Sonny Dykes, and his 2012 team at Louisiana Tech knew how to put up points with the best of 'em, averaging more per game than even Oregon (and everyone else in the country). But he’s not in the Western Athletic Conference anymore, and this is a Cal team that went 3-9 last year and will be featuring a true freshman (Jared Goff) as the starting quarterback in 2013. Will a month of regular-season action be enough for the Bear Raid to coalesce to the point that it can keep up with the Ducks?
[Related: 2013 Cal football schedule]
The Golden Bears don’t exactly have fond memories in Eugene, or playing against the Ducks in general, but they have made the first halves interesting in recent games. The last time Cal made the trip up north, it lost by four touchdowns after holding a slim halftime edge. The last time Cal played Oregon (last season), it lost by six touchdowns in a game that stayed close for about 40 minutes even without starting quarterback Zach Maynard and star receiver Keenan Allen. You don’t have to go too far back in time to find a Cal victory over Oregon (2008), but obviously these programs are a lot different than they were five years ago.
No such thing as easing into the road schedule for Cal in 2013. After playing their first three games at home (Northwestern, Portland State and Ohio State), the Golden Bears will have their first game away from Strawberry Canyon in Eugene. Shouldn’t cause too much of a problem, because it’s not like Autzen Stadium gets loud and is one of the toughest places to play in the country, right? … Right?
It's the conference opener for both teams, so no matter how the non-conference slate goes, an unblemished Pac-12 record will be on the line.
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