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No. 6 Oregon, trying to peak at right time, not overlooking Cal


Oregon is in the thick of the national championship picture as the calendar turns to November.

The Ducks are No. 6 in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the campaign. They conclude the regular season with three of four games at home, beginning with a Pac-12 contest against Cal on Saturday in Eugene, Ore.

Oregon sits behind No. 5 Washington of the Pac-12 due to its 36-33 loss to the Huskies in Seattle on Oct. 14. It is possible the two teams will meet again in next month’s Pac-12 title game.

Regardless, momentum is running rampant after the Ducks (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) trounced Utah 35-6 last weekend in Salt Lake City. The Utes had won 18 straight home games.

Now the task is not slipping up against the Golden Bears (3-5, 1-4), who have dropped three straight games.

“We want to play our best football at the end of the season,” Oregon second-year coach Dan Lanning said. “We’ve played our best football to date this last week, and we have to play better going forward.”

Lanning said the rout of Utah was “certainly the best performance of our team since I’ve been here.”

The Ducks have topped 30 points in all eight of their games and rank third nationally in scoring among FBS teams at 45.5 points per game and second in total offense at 531.4 yards per game.

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix has moved into the top tier of Heisman Trophy candidates and leads the nation with a 78.3 completion percentage. He has completed at least 72 percent of his throws in every game this season.

Nix has thrown for 2,337 yards and 21 touchdowns against just one interception, but his experience (an NCAA-record 55 career starts) and intangibles stand out.

“Bo Nix is the best quarterback in the nation, just to be really clear,” Lanning said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. And again, it’s not just the plays he makes on the field, I think a lot of people talk about chasing stats and all these things, this guy just plays consistent.”

Nix insists he isn’t concerned with the Heisman race.

“I want to go out there and put our team in the best situation possible,” Nix said. “I feel like when I do that, (my teammates) have my back and they go out and perform at a high level as well.”

Cal had a chance to post a signature win against Southern California last weekend but fell short with a 50-49 home loss.

The Golden Bears led by 14 points before the Trojans scored 21 straight to take a 50-43 lead with 3:33 to go. Cal scored a touchdown with 58 seconds left and coach Justin Wilcox elected to go for a two-point conversion, but quarterback Fernando Mendoza’s pass was deflected by USC’s Jaylin Smith.

“Late in the game we had some opportunities to make a play here or there to change the outcome and we just couldn’t quite come up with it,” Wilcox said. “That’s a very talented team we just competed with and (we) had a number of chances to win and we didn’t do it.”

Mendoza completed 25 of 39 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for two scores. The redshirt freshman has started three straight games and has thrown two TD passes while getting intercepted once in each contest.

Golden Bears sophomore running back Jaydn Ott matched his career best of three rushing touchdowns and posted his fifth career 100-yard game by rushing for 153 yards on 21 carries against the Trojans. Ott left in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury, and Wilcox said Tuesday that his best back is expected to play against the Ducks.

Ott has 754 rushing yards and eight scores on the season.

Oregon has won 12 of the past 14 meetings with Cal.

–Field Level Media

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