Ducks Brushing up for Seattle Bowl

Dec. 27, 2002

Oregon (7-5/3-5) vs. Wake Forest (6-6/3-5)
Monday, Dec. 30, 2:30 p.m. (PST)
Seattle, Wash., Seahawk Stadium (35,362)

Oregon Sports Network, 1:30 p.m. (PST) (Jerry Allen, Mike Jorgensen, Bobby DeBisschop)

ESPN, 2:30 p.m. (PST) (Steve Levy, Rod Gilmore, Alex Flanagan)

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11-YEAR REUNION . . . Oregon goes after an eighth victory for the fifth year in a row when it attempts to secure its fourth-straight bowl win in a post-season rematch from 10 years ago. The Ducks look to snap their longest drought since 1997 when they meet a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference for only the second time ever. One of the top running backs in the country is expected to return to full strength with the hopes of helping Oregon's offense regain some of its confidence that wavered down the stretch. A Ducks' defense which traditionally has been strong against the run, tries to stymie the nation's eighth-ranked rushing attack. One of the most productive players in school history hopes to get a chance to claim a trio of school records for himself as the Pacific-10 Conference representative makes its first Seattle visit in three years.

HEAD COACH MIKE BELLOTTI . . . Now reigning as the longest-tenured head coach in the Pacific-10 Conference, Mike Bellotti also has led the program to more overall wins during his eight-year stint than any other school in the league. The Ducks' third-winningest coach of all time (67-28-0) ranks 16th all-time in conference winning percentage (62.5%) among Pac-10 coaches who have coached in the league a minimum of five years, with his 40-24 record in Pac-10 encounters tying him for 17th in career league wins with California's Pappy Waldorf (1947-56). Bellotti has played a vital role in assembling more than 20 percent (106 wins) of the university's all-time triumphs (509) in his 14-year Oregon association (six as offensive coordinator and eight as head coach). Only Hugo Bezdek (72.7 -- 1906, 1913-17) has accumulated a better winning percentage than Bellotti's 70.5 percent among the program's mentors who have coached the Ducks longer than two seasons. He trails only Rich Brooks (91-109, 1977-94) and Len Casanova (82-73, 1951-66) on the school's list of career victories. The 51-year-old former Cal State Chico mentor owns a 90-53-2 (62.8%) 13-year career collegiate head coaching mark. Included is a 4-2 ledger in post-season play.

WAKE FOREST'S JIM GROBE . . . The former Ohio head coach (1995-2000) became only the Demon Deacons' third mentor since the start of World War II to post winning records in their first season in Winston-Salem, N.C. (6-5 in 2001), and would become the school's sixth coach ever to post successful ledgers in each of their first two campaigns with the institution's second bowl victory in 11 years. The Virginia education graduate and former academic all-ACC selection broke into the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at his alma mater in 1975 before serving as head coach for two years at Liberty (Bedford, Va.) High School. He then broke into the collegiate ranks as an assistant at Emory & Henry (1978) before migrating to Marshall (1979-1983) and then Air Force (1984-1994).

BOWL HISTORY . . . Participating in its 11th post-season appearance in the last 14 seasons, Oregon attempts to secure its fourth consecutive bowl victory and raise its all-time record to 8-9. Prior to 1989, the Ducks had made only six bowl appearances in the first 93 years of the program's history. Since that time, Oregon has come close to doubling that previous number, with head coach Mike Bellotti playing a prominant role in each of the 11 games. He helped the Ducks forge a 1-3 post-season mark as offensive coordinator and a 4-2 record as head coach. Only Washington has been able to accumulate a more extensive active post-season resume among Pac-10 Conference counterparts since Oregon's current run of success originated in the late 1980s, with the Huskies partaking in their 12th bowl appearance in the last 14 years compared to the Ducks' 11.

SEASON REVIEW . . . Oregon capped its first five drives of the day with points on the scoreboard before Mississippi State was able to tally a first down to extend a 27-7 halftime lead into a 36-13 win. Quarterback Jason Fife threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth while Jared Siegel converted a trio of field goals to propel the Ducks' to their ninth season-opening victory in the last 10 years . . . The Ducks overcame their largest fourth-quarter home-field deficit in five years on Onterrio Smith's second touchdown of the day to fuel their 28-24 win over Fresno State. Samie Parker finished the day with nine catches for 161 yards and one score and the Oregon defense stiffened to allow the visitors only 59 yards of total offense and no points in the fourth quarter, enabling Jason Fife to direct a 43-yard, four-play drive in less than one minute for the clinching score . . . Oregon parlayed a pair of bad long snaps and three turnovers into 31 points en route to mounting a 58-21 setback over Idaho. When the Ducks weren't consumed by their four scoring drives of 15 yards or less, Jason Fife was completing an 80-yard TD pass to Samie Parker as the offense maintained possession of the ball for only 21 minutes . . . A pair of Oregon quarterbacks combined for three touchdown passes and Onterrio Smith scored two more to pace Oregon to its first shutout in 10 years, 41-0 over Portland State. The Ducks' defense denied the visitors twice inside Oregon's 30-yard line and allowed PSU only three third-down conversions in 14 tries . . . Two Onterrio Smith touchdowns and a 53-yard Jared Siegel field goal helped the Ducks overcome a pair of Arizona first-quarter leads en route to Oregon's 31-14 win. The Ducks accumulated 353 of their season-high 432 yards of total offense in the final three quarters, with a Keith Lewis interception sparking 14 unanswered second-half points . . . Oregon prevailed in the battle of 'big plays,' yet it was a blocked PAT and a missed field goal that proved to be the difference in the Ducks' 31-30 win over UCLA. Keenan Howry scored on a 79-yard punt return and a 74-yard reception, Jared Siegel added a school-record 59-yard field goal and the defense stiffened to keep the Bruins on the outer limits of FG range for the second year in a row . . . Arizona State quarterback Andrew Walter victimized Oregon for a Pac-10 record 536 yards passing to overcome a 21-0 first-half deficit and snap the Ducks' 11-game winning streak, 45-42. Despite the Sun Devils scoring on eight consecutive possessions, Oregon's hopes weren't dashed until Jason Fife's first intercepton in five games sealed its fate . . . USC accounted for 20 unanswered points in the third quarter while limiting Oregon to only nine yards of total offense during the same 15-minute span to post a 44-33 win over the Ducks. The Trojans threw for 448 yards and five TDs (226 receiving yards by Mike Williams), while the Pac-10's top defense held Onterrio Smith under 100 rushing yards for the first time in eight games this year . . . Quarterback Jason Fife threw a trio of touchdown passes in addition to rushing for a fourth -- all in the first quarter -- to spearhead Oregon's41-14 win over Stanford. The Ducks capped six of their first seven offensive drives with points on the scoreboard while the defense held the Cardinal under 100 yards rushing and passing. Freshman tailback Terrence Whitehead -- subbing for the injured Onterrio Smith -- also ran for 132 yards, while Oregon held Stanford without a first down until early in the second quarter . . . A rejuvenated Oregon defense held Washington State in check for almost three quarters before the Cougars accounted for the final 15 points in just over 15 minutes to hand the Ducks a 32-21 setback. Oregon's defense accounted for two of the three touchdowns while its running game was saddled with its lowest output (60 yards) in three seasons . . . Washington passed for 316 yards and four touchdowns, with wide receiver Reggie Williams tying an Autzen Stadium record with 14 receptions to account for 198 yards and three scores, to pace a 42-14 win over Oregon. The Ducks were held scoreless in the final three quarters after Jason Fife capped their first two drives of the day with TD passes to Samie Parker and Jason Willis . . . Oregon State scored 21 unanswered points to break a 17-17 deadlock while a trio of interceptions hampered the Ducks' offense to result in a 45-24 setback. Oregon rebounded from a 17-3 deficit just before the half only to watch the Beavers regain the momentum with a TD drive 28 seconds later. Keenan Howry accumulated 223 all-purpose yards and two scores while defensive tackle Igor Olshansky tallied 12 tackles.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GREETINGS . . . Senior defensive end Darrell Wright and junior guard Joey Forster both will celebrate their 23rd and 22nd birthdays, respectively, on the day of the Seattle Bowl.

ABOUT WAKE FOREST . . . The Deamon Deacons will try for their third winning season in the last four years after going 6-5 last season in head coach Jim Grobe's first season in Winston-Salem. After a 2002 regular season-ending loss to Maryland, Wake Forest will attempt to keep its streak intact of victories immediately after a loss (8), dating back to 2001. The nation's eighth-ranked rushing attack gained a season high of 365 yards this season at Clemson on 64 carries - ninth all-time in school history and most since 1993. Individually, senior running back Tarence Williams racked up 149 yards against Florida State this season, and ranks among the top five in school history in rushing touchdowns (3rd, 22), career +100-yard games (3rd, 12), rushing yards (4th, 2,528) and career scoring (10th, 144). Senior fullback Olvie Mughelli rushed for four touchdowns against Northern Illinois and is tied for third in school in history in rushing touchdowns in a season (11). Freshman running back Chris Barclay ranks third among ACC freshmen and ninth overall in the league in rushing. On defense, senior lineman Calvin Pace was named an AFCA first-team All-American and ranked top 10 in the ACC this season in tackles for loss (2nd, 19.0), and sacks (6th, 8.0). He ranks first all-time in Wake Forest history in career tackles for loss (53) and second in sacks (29). Sophomore middle linebacker Brad White racked up 24 tackles vs. Navy - the most by a Deac since 1987. Redshirt kicker Matt Wisnosky has had three, three-field goal games this season and leads the team in points (76) - and also ranks fourth all-time in school history in single-season scoring. On field goals, he's connected on 12 of 16 tries and ranks 22nd nationally in field goals per game average (1.33). Senior wide receiver Fabian Davis stands top five in the league in all-purpose (second, 133.4 avg.), kickoff return (fourth, 22.0 avg.) and punt return yardage (fifth, 9.4 avg.).

SERIES RECORD . . . Wake Forest defeated the Ducks, 39-35, in the only previous meeting between the two programs in the 1992 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. It also happens to be the only previous matchup between Oregon and a representative of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

THE LAST TIME . . . Oregon's 29-10 third-quarter advantage wasn't enough to hold off the underdog Demon Deacons as they accounted for 29 unanswered points in the final 19 minutes of the contest en route to a 39-35 win. Wake Forest was able to overcome the loss of five turnovers -- including two interception returns for touchdowns -- to take the lead for good, 32-29, on a 61-yard touchdown pass with 12:02 remaining in the game. Oregon fought back from a 39-29 deficit with one TD with 1:05 to play, but could get no closer. Oregon cornerback Herman O'Berry received defensive player-of-the-game honors for his one interception for a score and two fumble recoveries, while quarterback Danny O'Neil completed 24 of 40 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. However the Ducks were hurt by rushing for only 112 yards while Wake Forest accumulated 516 yards total offense.

NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS . . . Oregon has accumulated a 27-4 ledger in non-conference encounters since Mike Bellotti assumed control of the program prior to the 1995 season, including wins his his last 10 opportunities. Under his watch, the Ducks have suffered non-league setbacks to Colorado (twice), at Michigan State and at Wisconsin. Included among his 4-2 post-season record were victories over Air Force ('97 Las Vegas Bowl), Minnesota ('99 Sun Bowl), Texas ('00 Holiday Bowl) and Colorado ('02 Fiesta Bowl).

AGAINST THE RUN . . . Oregon has accumulated a 27-1 record in the eight years under Mike Bellotti when it has held opponents to 100 yards or less on the ground. The one setback occurred earlier this year in a 45-42 loss to Arizona State. Wake Forest mounts an enormous challenge, yet the Ducks limited Colorado (8th in the country in rushing, 228.5 avg.) to only 49 yards rushing in last year's 38-16 Fiesta Bowl win. In addition, they held Air Force (9th nationally in rushing) to 152 yards in a 1997 Las Vegas Bowl win.

ALL-STAR INVITATIONS . . . Seniors Keenan Howry and David Moretti have been extended invitations to participate in the 78th annual East-West Shrine Game Jan. 11, 2003, in San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park.

BELLOTTI TO COACH IN HULA BOWL . . . Oregon's Mike Bellotti has been chosen as one of the coaches for this year's Hula Bowl All-Star Classic Feb. 1, 2003, on the island of Maui in Hawaii. He joins Miami's Larry Coker, Texas' Mack Brown and Marshall's Bob Pruett, with four additional coaches yet to be named. The game will mark Bellotti's fifth all-star coaching appearance, coaching twice in the East-West Shrine Game (1999, 2002) and twice in the Blue-Gray classic (1989, 1996).

POST-SEASON ELITE . . . It wasn't that long ago when Oregon and bowl games weren't necessarily uttered in the same breath, yet that certainly has changed within the last 14 seasons. The Ducks find themselves among only 14 programs in the country to play in at least 11 bowls over that span. In addition, only 10 schools can boast of more post-season prosperity during than Oregon during that same time frame. Listed below are the nation's most frequent bowl participants since 1989.

- 14 Bowl Games in the Last 14 Years (Florida State, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee)

- 13 Bowl Games in the Last 14 Years (Florida, Ohio State)

- 12 Bowl Games in the Last 14 Years (Colorado, Miami (Fla.), Penn State, Washington)

- 11 Bowl Games in the Last 14 Years (Notre Dame, Oregon, Texas A&M, Virginia)

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