Is Oregon getting spoiled?
The fifth-ranked Ducks defeated Utah 44-21 on Saturday and then moved back into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 North Division when USC upset Stanford, 20-17, later that evening. Oregon is now 6-1 in the conference while Stanford is 6-2.
"We got some help from a strange friend," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said of the Trojans' win.
Oregon will win the North if it defeats Arizona and Oregon State to end the regular season and that would also allow the Ducks to host the conference championship game. If Oregon wins the conference title for the fourth time in five years, it would be headed back to the Rose Bowl.
The Rose Bowl used to be the ultimate goal for Oregon, but a 2011 trip to the BCS National Championship Game has raised expectations.
"I don't want to play in a Rose Bowl unless I'm playing for a national championship," Oregon receiver Josh Huff said.
This year's BCS title game is in Pasadena, Calif. and Oregon was in the running when it started the season 8-0 before its loss to Stanford. Now the Rose Bowl is a consolation prize.
"It's not a big deal at all," Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas said. "We already won a Rose Bowl, so it feels like whatever."
Oregon went from 1958 to 1995 without ever reaching the Rose Bowl, but has been twice in the past five seasons. Oregon lost to Ohio State in the 2010 Rose Bowl and beat Wisconsin in 2012.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
--QB Marcus Mariota has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 23 career games and has led Oregon to a 21-2 record during that span. He has thrown 353 passes without an interception, breaking the conference record by more than 100 completions. He is the NCAA career leader in interception percentage at 0.97 while moving up to sixth in school history in total offense with 6,725 yards.
--WR Josh Huff has a career-high 802 receiving yards on 45 catches with seven touchdowns. He had four catches for 57 yards against Utah to become the 10th receiver in school history to exceed 2,000 career receiving yards. He is ninth in school history with 127 receptions.
--RB De'Anthony Thomas had an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Utah. It was the fourth touchdown on a kickoff return in his career, extending his own school record. He also had a receiving touchdown against the Utes. He has 45 touchdowns in his career, tied for third in school history.
--CB Terrance Mitchell had an interception against Utah and now leads the team with five. He had two interceptions as a freshman, but none last year as a sophomore.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's hard to win every football game. I think if you look around the country, there's not 50 undefeated teams. A lot of those teams that are up there now weren't there last year or the year before or the last five, 10 years. I don't think we're regressing in any way." -- Oregon coach Mark Helfrich on criticism after his team lost its first game of the year.
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