If these Pac-10 teams perform as they did last week, Oregon may lose its spot in the rankings to UCLA.
The No. 18 Ducks are coming off a demoralizing defeat as they host a Bruins squad which is playing very well following its lone loss.
Oregon (4-1, 2-1) was held to a season-low 358 yards of offense in a 45-24 loss to then-No. 16 California last Saturday, falling seven spots in this week’s AP poll.
UCLA’s second straight conference victory, 27-7 over Arizona last Saturday, enabled the Bruins (4-1, 2-1) to improve to 4-0 at home and move closer to joining the Top 25. Of teams to receive votes but not end up ranked this week, UCLA was tied for the third-most votes with 13.
UCLA, however, did receive some bad news on Monday as it learned starting quarterback Ben Olson will be sidelined 4-to-6 weeks due to a torn medial collateral ligament suffered in the win over Arizona.
Sophomore Patrick Cowan steps in to make his first start after coming off the bench with an impressive performance last Saturday, completing 20 of 29 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He was beaten out by Olson for the starting job this summer.
“I told him that this was his shot,” UCLA coach Ken Dorrell said, “and to go out there and make the most of it.”
Cowan faces an Oregon defense which was shredded for 424 yards by Cal last week, easily the most it has given up all season. The offense wasn’t much better with 70 yards on 29 rushing attempts, and Dennis Dixon had three interceptions after throwing only two through the season’s first four games.
“They took away some of our running game and some things that we’ve been very successful at,” Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. “We just need to play with a little bit more intensity.”
Ducks tailback Jonathan Stewart was held to 25 yards on 18 carries after rushing for a combined 286 yards over the previous two games.
“We thought we were ready but we just didn’t come out to play,” said Stewart, noting Oregon’s 14-3 first-quarter and 28-10 halftime deficits.
These teams last met came in 2004 when UCLA ended a four-game losing streak in the series with a 34-26 victory at Autzen Stadium.
Bruins running back Chris Markey replaced injured starter Maurice Drew in that game and broke out for 131 yards on 23 carries.
Markey tops UCLA this season with 492 rushing yards and 5.9 per carry, but is coming off a quiet performance last Saturday as he was held to 40 yards on 14 carries.