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Oregon’s Trip To UCLA Could Be Pac-12 Championship Game Preview

October 9, 2014

The biggest game in the Pac-12 Conference during the regular season arrives on Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena when UCLA hosts Oregon in a matchup of ranked teams that expect to reach not just the Pac-12 title game but also the inaugural College Football Playoff. It also looks to be the toughest game remaining on both teams’ regular-season slate. UCLA and Oregon could easily meet again in the conference championship game. However, both enter off shocking home upset losses. Thus the loser here will have no shot to make the playoffs.

After traveling to UCLA, Oregon has a fairly manageable schedule: vs. Washington (Oct. 18), at California (Oct. 24), vs. Stanford (Nov. 1), at Utah (Nov. 8), vs. Colorado (Nov. 22) and at Oregon State (Nov. 29). Only Stanford is currently ranked but that’s in Eugene, although the Cardinal have beaten Oregon in back-to-back years. Those trips to Utah and Oregon State, for the Civil War, could be tricky but certainly the Ducks will be favored. Should Ducks QB Marcus Mariota have a big game and beat UCLA, that could cement his Heisman hopes. He was the WagerWeb favorite for the award before the loss to Arizona.

UCLA, which opened as a 3-point underdog to Oregon, finishes up like this: at California, at Colorado, vs. Arizona, at Washington, vs. USC, vs. Stanford. That trip to Washington has upset potential and obviously  those games against the Trojans and Cardinal obviously won’t be easy but at least both are at home. Should Brett Hundley lead an upset of the Ducks, his Heisman hopes would get a huge boost.

Last year at home, Oregon was a 23.5-point WagerWeb favorite, unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in the nation when No. 12 UCLA visited. The Bruins shut down the Ducks’ offense for a half as it was tied 14-all at intermission. However, Oregon scored 28 unanswered in the second half for a 42-14 victory. Oregon finished with 555 yards of offense to 283 for UCLA. Mariota was 21 of 28 for 230 yards and a touchdown. Hundley had perhaps his worst game passing as a Bruin, completing 13 of 19 for just 64 yards while being picked off two times. He did run for 72 yards and a touchdown. UCLA hasn’t defeated the Ducks since a 16-0 blanking in 2007.

Here’s what a question for the College Football Playoff Committee: Will it take a one-loss Oregon or UCLA, assuming one wins the Pac-12 title game, over a one-loss team such as Alabama or Michigan State? Winning this game convincingly would go a long way toward impressing the committee.

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