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Ducks focused on UCLA, not BCS standings

The SportsXchange

Unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in the polls, Oregon was ranked No. 3 in the first BCS standings released on Sunday.

Coach Mark Helfrich isn't among the Oregon fans fretting about the fact that both Alabama and Florida State are ahead of the Ducks in the BCS.

"Lot of football left to play and we play UCLA next, that is my reaction," he said. "That is great for the media and fans and for 'Hey, what if this happens and that happens', but I know we play UCLA."

Helfrich has passed that message onto the players.

"That's their opinion, we have no control over it," quarterback Marcus Mariota said of the BCS Standings.

Oregon is 7-0 and 4-0 in the Pac-12 Conference heading into its toughest two-week stretch of the season and will likely pass No. 2 Florida State if it can beat No. 12 UCLA Saturday at Autzen Stadium. A win over the Bruins could move Oregon up in the computer rankings enough to pass the Seminoles, who face unranked North Carolina State, which is 3-3.

After UCLA, the Ducks have a bye before a nationally-televised game against No. 8 Stanford on Nov. 8. The Cardinal beat the Bruins 24-10 last week so while Oregon watched film of UCLA this week, it will also get a sneak preview of Stanford.

"I'm sure that helps on some level," Helfrich said. "Special teams is a place where you have a direct correlation to something you are going to do and that they do. But it is kind of the opposite. You are looking at UCLA's defense while watching Stanford's offense."

UCLA is the highest ranked team that Oregon has faced this season.

"They are really good," Helfrich said. "They played a tough Stanford team last week. They have six or seven linebackers that are all virtually interchangeable and outstanding. They run well, they are athletic, coached well and their front is good and the back end is really good. It is a huge challenge."

NOTES, QUOTES

PLAYERS TO WATCH

--QB Marcus Mariota is at the top of many Heisman Trophy lists halfway through the season. He ranks fifth in the country with 363.4 yards of total offense per game. The sophomore has 19 touchdown passes and nine touchdown runs, and has yet to throw an interception on the season.

--RB Byron Marshall has started four straight games in place of injured De'Anthony Thomas and has gone over 100 yards in each game. Marshall ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns against California, 122 against Colorado, 106 yards and two scores against Washington, and a career-high 192 yards and three scores against Washington State. Thomas is expected back this week, but may play more as a slot receiver to keep Marshall in the backfield.

--WR Keanon Lowe ranks third on the Ducks with 13 catches for 164 yards and three touchdowns and also has six kick returns for 117 yards. However, he may be most valuable as a blocker at wide receiver. He blocked two Washington State defenders to spring running back Thomas Tyner for a 66-yard touchdown run Saturday. "Some of the guys said it was the best block they had ever seen from a receiver," Lowe said.

--CB Terrance Mitchell did not have an interception during his sophomore year, but now leads the team with four this season. He returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown against Washington State, the first pick-six of his career.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The ball is our friend. We can't have it out there like that." -- Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who had two fumbles against Washington State for his first two turnovers of the season.
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