The eighth weekend of the 2013 college football season was rough for a number of the nation’s top-rated teams – but not for Oregon. The nation’s No. 2-ranked team blew away Washington State to remain undefeated and set up a nationally featured home showdown against UCLA.
That being said, the Bruins did not hold up their end of the bargain during Week 8. Coach Jim Mora’s squad fell to another Pac-12 powerhouse, Stanford, 24-10. The loss was the first of the year, and it kept the program from potentially climbing into the nation’s top five with an undefeated record.
Will the loss provide sufficient motivation for the Bruins to head out on the road and knock off a team expected to play for a national championship later this season?
If UCLA can pull off the upset, the win will serve as its first against the Ducks since 2007, and its 39th against OU since the series was first played back in 1928.
Can Oregon win its 27th game against UCLA, and remain perfect in front of the ESPN College GameDay crew?
Whichever team does eventually leave Eugene with a win, we’ll be hearing quite a bit about their quarterback. At this point, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is probably the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, but UCLA has an elite redshirt sophomore of their own in Brett Hundley. Through six games, the 6-foot-3, 222-pound passer has tallied 1,661 yards and 13 touchdowns, but also six interceptions. Hundley threw two against Stanford in what was easily his worst game of the year.
It does not get any easier against the Ducks. Yes, Oregon sets the gold standard offensively, but first-year coach Mark Helfrich has this defense clicking on all cylinders as well. The Ducks are giving up a paltry (especially in the Pac-12) 17.3 points per game, and its strength lies in the defensive backfield.
Juniors Terrance Mitchell and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu have six interceptions between them, and could easily turn a Hundley mistake into a turnover.
Oregon will need more than simply two guys, however. Dior Mathis, Avery Patterson and Erick Dargan will all have to step up as well, seeing as ULCA has completed at least one pass to a whopping 22 different players.
That is a lot of different weapons, but all Marcus Mariota may need is two guys. Josh Huff (627 yards) and Bralon Addison (543) each have 32 receptions and six touchdowns on the year.
Seeing as linebacker/pass rusher Anthony Barr will be gunning for Mariota all night, however, it will probably be beneficial that Mariota boasts several more at his disposal. Yes, Colt Lyerla is gone, but freshman Johnny Mundt has stepped up in a big way at tight end, tallying 216 reception yards and two scores.
The fastest man in college football, De’Anthony Thomas, suffered a sprained right ankle and has not played since Sept. 28. If he plays on Saturday, Barr and the rest of the Bruins defense will have one more star to reckon with. If not, they still have to stop the rushing attack of sophomore Byron Marshall (746 run yards, 6.72 YPC, nine touchdowns), Mariota (493, 10.06, nine) and freshman Thomas Tyner (360, 6.67, seven). That has not been a task that any team the Ducks have faced have been up to this year.
Will UCLA be the first?
If so, will that be enough to pull off the monumental road upset and once again dash Oregon’s national title hopes? Or will Hundley struggle for his second consecutive game, paving the way for a relatively easy win for the Ducks?
We have no idea what the answers to these questions are, but perhaps you do. It’s time to Settle It.