For the complete Oregon weekly football notes, see attached PDF
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. at Autzen Stadium with a live national telecast on ESPN and regional telecast on FSN Arizona, FSN West and FSN Northwest.
• The Ducks have won the last two meetings, but ASU leads the all-time series 16-11.
• The Sun Devils have won two straight at Autzen Stadium, most recently beating UO, 28-13 on Oct. 2, 2004.
• ASU is 8-6 all-time at Autzen, but 3-6 since 1990.
• The last time the Sun Devils beat the a ranked UO team was Oct. 19, 2002, when the Ducks were No. 6.
• After never hosting two top 10 teams (AP rankings) in it’s 41-year history, Autzen Stadium will do so for the second time in as many weeks.
• The Ducks have not surrendered a rushing TD inside the Red Zone in three consecutive games.
• Oregon boasts the top scoring offense in the Pac-10 (43.8 ppg) while ASU has the top scoring defense (15.6) in the conference.
• The Ducks rank No. 4 in the nation in rushing yards per game at 280.4.
• Jonathan Stewart became the 11th different player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, when he reached the mileston during the 24-17 win vs. USC on Oct. 27. The feat has been accomplished 13 times.
• SR QB Dennis Dixon has run for a TD in every game this season.
• UO’s last nine touchdowns have come via the run.
• SR QB Dennis Dixon had a streak of throwing at least one TD in eight straight games snapped vs. USC.
DIXON ONE OF 15 SEMIFINALISTS FOR DAVEY O’BRIEN AWARD ... SR QB Dennis Dixon, was elevated from the watch list to semifinalist for the 2007 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award. The group of 15 quarterbacks will continue to jockey for position until the balloting for the three Finalists closes at 10 a.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, Nov. 18. All Finalists will be in attendance in Orlando, Fla., where The O’Brien Winner will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN Dec. 6. Dixon is currently on the watch list for the Maxwell Award, give to college football’s most outstanding player.
HARPER LATEST TO EARN CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK ... For the third consecutive week, the Oregon Ducks have a Pac-10 Player of the Week with SR S Matthew Harper taking home the hardware for Week 9. The Union City, Calif., native had two key interceptions in Oregon’s 24-17 win over USC on Oct. 27, the first one setting up a touchdown and the second sealing the victory in the game’s final minute. He was also a candidate for the Pontiac Game Changing Performance on ESPN.com. JR RB Jonathan Stewart earned the Pac-10 weekly offensive award for Week 8 and JR DE Nick Reed took home the defensive honor in Week 7.
ESPN BACK ON CAMPUS ... ESPN College GameDay will produce its weekly college football preview show from the University of Oregon for the second time this season prior to the Ducks’ home game vs. Arizona State.The premier college football pre-game show, which has aired weekly on ESPN since its inception in 1989, also originated from outside of Autzen Stadium on Sept. 29, when Oregon, ranked 11th at the time, hosted then No. 6 California. Saturday will mark the first time College GameDay as made two trips to the same Pac-10 school in one season. This will be the third Eugene appearance for the show, which includes features, predictions and highlights of some of this week’s top games from around the country, and the fourth time the Ducks have played a role in the network’s award-winning college football preview show. The production’s first Oregon appearance occurred in 2000 when it made its first-ever appearance in the Pacific Northwest on Sept. 23 prior to the Oregon-UCLA game.
GAMEDAY TIMES TWO ... College GameDay on ESPN Radio will also be originating from Eugene on Saturday. The program, hosted by Scott Reiss, Trevor Matich and Todd McShay, will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. live from the Moshofsky Center. Details regarding when the Mo Center will open for the event will be released later in the week.
SEEING RED ... The Oregon defense is the stingiest in the Pac-10 at allowing opposing scores inside the Red Zone. Opponents are converting 68 percent of their chances inside the 20-yard line. Offensively, the Ducks rank fourth with an 83.7 percent success rate.
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE ... Accentuating Oregon’s 7-1 start and top 10 national ranking (No. 4 AP and USA Today, No. 5 BCS and Harris polls) is the fact that its schedule currently ranks as the seventh toughest in the country in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) based on the winning percentage of its 2007 opponents. Those 12 foes have accumulated a winning percentage of .616 (53-33 vs. FBS opponents not including Oregon). Of the teams UO has already faced, Michigan (7-0) has lost since being defeated by the Ducks.
VS. THE TOP 25 ... Although Mike Bellotti-coached teams have accumulated a 22-23 record against top 25-ranked opponents, the Ducks are 11-8 in Autzen Stadium since 1995 and 4-2 vs. the top 10 at home during that same span. Saturday’s game vs. ASU will pit two top 10 teams (AP rankings) against one another at Autzen for the second time in the stadium’s 41-year history, and second time in as many weeks.
ELITE VISITORS ... Oregon has hosted an opponent ranked among the nation’s top 10 on 22 occasions since Autzen Stadium opened in 1967, with the Ducks accumulating a 9-12-1 ledger. The Oct. 27 win over USC was UO’s first home victory against a top 10 foe since defeating Michigan in 2003. The Ducks have played 25 games under Bellotti where both Oregon and its opponent were ranked among the nation’s top 26, with the Ducks accumulating a 15-11 mark on those occasions.
ON THE DUCK WALK ... The Ducks have worn a different uniform combination in every game this season. Oregon’s kit collection features jerseys and pants in black, green, white and yellow, and helmets in green, white and yellow. Every component has been worn at least once in 2007 with the exception of the yellow helmet.
SPECIAL DELIVERY ... With another unassisted tackle on special teams against USC Oct. 27, SO ROV T.J. Ward now has 13 such stops as part of his 15.0 total tackles on return coverage this season. The appropriately named FR FS Jeffrey Maehl is also delivering plenty of hits and ranks second to Ward with 9.5 special teams tackles (six solo).
LIGHTNING STRIKES ... Of Oregon’s 43 total drives resulting in touchdowns this season, seven have taken 18 seconds or less, 13 have occurred in less than one minute and 23 have lasted fewer than 120 seconds. The Ducks have scored on their first offensive play in two games (Stanford & Wash. St.).
THE POWER OF 10 ... A first in Mike Bellotti’s Oregon career, the Ducks have had 10 true freshman make appearances in 2007. DT Tonio Celotto, WR Drew Davis, CB Talmadge Jackson III, HB Malachi Lewis, FS Jeffrey Maehl, LB Casey Matthews, PK Daniel Padilla and DE Kenny Rowe all saw action in the season opener Sept. 1 vs. Houston, while CB Anthony Gildon joined the frosh parade at Michigan Sept. 8 and WR Aaron Pflugrad debuted at Stanford Sept. 22. Bellotti had never used more than seven true freshmen in any single season since taking over head coaching duties in 1995. A total of 11 newcomers were identified by Bellotti during the preseason as possibilities to take the field as first-year freshmen before the year is over. Three true freshmen played for the Ducks last season (QB Nate Costa, RB Andre Crenshaw and WR Derrick Jones), with the most first-year collegians to play in Bellotti’s first 12 seasons being seven (2004).
HALF FULL ... Oregon’s 42 first-half points vs. Fresno State were the most in a half by the Ducks since scoring 49 in the opening half of a 72-10 home victory over Nevada on Sept. 18, 1999.
HALF FULL REDUX ... The second-highest scoring half this season came against Washington State, when the Ducks put up 40 against the Cougars’ goose egg. The 40-point lead at the break is believed to be the largest in school history (specific records date to 1960).
ALL-TIME RUSHER ... JR RB Jonathan Stewart continues his climb up the career rushing list at Oregon and now ranks seventh with 2,212 yards. Stewart enters Saturday’s game vs. ASU less than 100 yards shy of Bobby Moore (Ahmad Rashad) for fifth place (2,306).
TOTAL ‘O’ ... SR QB Dennis Dixon cruised into Oregon’s career record book for total offense, thanks to his 368-yard effort at Michigan, Sept. 8. Dixon now ranks sixth all-time with 5,997 yards. Bill Musgrave (1987-90) holds the record with 8,140.
RUNNING IT UP ... The Ducks have surpassed the 300-yard rushing mark in four of their eight games this season, totaling 339 vs. Houston, 331 at Michigan, 307 vs. Fresno State and a record mark of 465 at Washington. The Ducks’ total against the Huskies broke the previous mark of 446 set at Washington State on Oct. 27, 2001. Oregon has six games of 300-plus since the start of 2006.
DEAN OF THE PAC-10 ... Not only has 13th-year head coach Mike Bellotti resumed his role as the longest-tenured football mentor in the conference, he stands as one of its most successful. Surpassed only by USC in overall wins in the Pacific-10 Conference during his Oregon tenure (104-49), he is among an elite collection of all-time conference coaches who have won 60 or more league games during their illustrious careers in the loop currently known as the Pac-10. Only nine conference brethren have ever achieved that milestone as Bellotti is tied for fifth on the Pac-10’s all-time list of league coaching victories (64-38), one win away from tying USC’s Howard Jones (65-23-12) for fourth. That record places him 17th on the league’s career winning percentage list in Pac-10 games (.627).
CLIMBING THE LADDER ... Mike Bellotti became the winningest football coach in the history of the University of Oregon in 2006, surpassing the 91 victories secured by Rich Brooks (1977-94). Only Hugo Bezdek (72.7%—1906, 1913-17) has accumulated a better winning percentage than Bellotti’s 68.0 percent (104-49) among his peers who have coached the Ducks a minimum of three seasons.
STAFF CHANGES ... Chip Kelly is in his first year as the program’s sixth offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under head coach Mike Bellotti. Kelly spent the past eight seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at New Hampshire, with the Wildcats finishing second in the NCAA’s Championship Subdivision (I-AA) in total offense (493.5), third in scoring (41.7) and fifth in passing (300.1 avg.) in 2005. He replaces Gary Crowton, who departed to assume the same role at LSU. In addition, former Oregon special teams coordinator/tight ends coach (1995-2000) Tom Osborne returns to Eugene in his same capacity after spending the past six years at Arizona State.
CONTINUITY ... Of the Ducks’ 10 coaches, five of them have coached at Oregon for a minimum of 15 years.
BALL MAGNETS ... In four of eight games this season the Ducks have had a player recover a fumble AND record an interception. SO CB Jairus Byrd did it in back-to-back games to start the year, SO CB Walter Thurmond III accomplished the feat Sept. 15 vs. Fresno State and JR SLB Jerome Boyd was credited with dual TOs vs. Washington State Oct. 13. Thurmond returned his fumble recovery 25 yards for his first career touchdown.
FOLLOW THE LIGHTNING YELLOW BRICK ROAD ... It certainly didn’t take long for the return of special teams coordinator Tom Osborne to make an impact following a six-year hiatus. Osborne, who served in the identical capacity as the Ducks’ special teams coordinator/tight ends coach from 1995-2000 before spending the past six years at Arizona State, returned to Eugene prior to this season and so far has paid immediate dividends. After the first nine weeks of the season, Oregon finds itself ranked second in the Pacific-10 Conference in kickoff returns (No. 20 nationally, 24.3 avg.) and fourth in punt returns (7.9 avg.). In addition, JR RB Jonathan Stewart is first in kickoff returns (28.9 avg).
STORM TROOPERS ... The Ducks debuted their white helmets for the first time on Oct. 20 at Washington to go with white jerseys and white pants. The “Storm Trooper” look proved effective as UO never trailed in a 55-34 romp.
A BOY NAMED “PFLU” ... FR WR Aaron Pflugrad, who began the season third on the depth chart at slot receiver and was tabbed for a possible redshirt season, has moved into the starting role following the loss of SR WR Cameron Colvin to a broken ankle Oct. 13 vs. Washington State. Pflugrad stepped up immediately against WSU, catching four balls including his first career TD on a 22-yard pass. He followed that up with five catches for 51 yards in his starting debut at Washington Oct. 20 and had two grabs for 28 yards vs. USC Oct. 27. Pflugrad’s father Robin, UO’s receivers coach, was an academic All-American wideout who caught passes from Neil Lomax at Portland State.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE ... For the first time in Mike Bellotti’s head coaching tenure, the Ducks named season captains at the end of fall camp. JR ROV Patrick Chung, SR QB Dennis Dixon, SR LB A.J. Tuitele and JR C Max Unger were selected in a vote by their teammates. Oregon had used game captains since 1993. With Tuitele currently sidelined with a broken foot, the coaches will elect a captain in his place on a per game basis until his return.
AUTZEN ADVANTAGE ... Oregon’s 41-year old facility has earned the reputation as one of the nation’s toughest college football venues for visiting teams. The Ducks have produced a 60-17 record (.779) in Autzen Stadium in the 13 seasons under the direction of Mike Bellotti. Since encountering an uncharacteristic 3-3 record at home in 2004, Oregon has bounced back to win 14 of its last 17 games on its home turf.
C-NOTE FOR BELLOTTI ... With UO’s win over Fresno State on Sept. 15, Mike Bellotti joined a select number of coaches, becoming the sixth to amass 100 or more wins at one school in the Pac-8/Pac-10 Conference. Leading the way is Washington’s Don James, who tallied a 153-57-2 mark (1975-92) in 18 seasons in Seattle. The other four were UCLA’s Terry Donahue (151-74-8; 1976-95), as well as USC’s John McKay (127-40-8; 1960-75), Howard Jones (121-36-13; 1925-40) and John Robinson (104-35-4; 1976-82, 1993-97). Tommy Prothro did combine for a 104-55-5 record at Oregon State (1955-64) and UCLA (1965-70), but 63 wins were the most posted at one school (OSU). Frank Kush acquired a 176-54-1 ledger in 22 seasons at Arizona State but only 12 of those wins occurred after the Sun Devils became a part of the Pac-10 in 1978.
AFTER THE BREAK ... Oregon has posted a 13-1 record on Saturdays following a bye week during the regular season under Mike Bellotti, including wins in its last 12 opportunities with an additional week to prepare. The last time the Ducks were unsuccessful coming after a break in the schedule was 1996 when they dropped a 33-14 decision to Washington despite extra time to prepare. Oregon hopes to benefit from one more such opportunity this season. Following its Nov. 3 home game against Arizona State, it will have 12 days before it’s Thursday night (Nov. 15) game at Arizona.
THE STREAK GOES ON ... JR C Max Unger and JR ROV Patrick Chung extended their respective starting streaks to 33 games vs. USC on Oct. 27. The duo has started every game played by the Ducks since the beginning of 2005. Unger’s eight starts this season have been at center after moving over from tackle.
RECORD RUSH ... JR RB Jonathan Stewart set an Autzen Stadium record for the longest run in the venue’s history with his 88-yard touchdown vs. Fresno State on Sept. 15. The carry was also the second longest in school history behind a 92-yard gallop by Bob Smith in 1938.
BUSTIN’ LOOSE ... SR QB Dennis Dixon’s 50-yard run in the 1st quarter of the Sept. 1 game vs. Houston was the longest rush of his career until an 80-yard TD scamper in the 3rd. The 80-yard carry was the longest by a UO player since Ricky Whittle had an 80-yarder of his own vs. Cal on Nov. 7, 1992.
PUNTING PROFICIENCY ... Not since 2002 has Oregon climbed out of the bottom half of the Pac-10 rankings in net punting. Yet the Ducks hope to change that. Oregon is currently sixth in the conference (36.6-yard average) while junior newcomer Josh Syria is seventh in the Pac-10 in overall punting (41.0-yard avg.).
CENTURY MARK PROVES KEY ... The Ducks are 11-1 since the start of 2006 when they have a 100-yard rusher. JR RB Jonathan Stewart has managed the feat 11 times - most recently vs. USC - while SR QB Dennis Dixon accounts for the other. In the eight other games, UO is 2-6.
THREE DEEP ... Not only do the Ducks have two players with third generation names, but they both play right cornerback and rank 1-2 on the depth chart. UO’s pair of trips: SO Walter Thurmond III and FR Talmadge Jackson III.
DIXON ON PACE ... SR QB Dennis Dixon has made strides from year to year in his accuracy, completing better than 64.1 percent of his passes (426-665) and putting him on pace to shatter Kellen Clemens’ career school record of 61.0 percent.
BORN TO BE A DUCK ... FR H-Back Malachi Lewis may have grown up in California, but his first few days on earth were spent in Eugene, where his mother Sheila (Sattiewhite) Lewis spent four-years as a letterwinner on the Ducks’ women’s basketball team. Born at Sacred Heart Hospital, the younger Lewis played his first college football game less than two miles away at Autzen Stadium on Sept. 1 and recovered a blocked punt to set up a key third-quarter touchdown in UO’s win over Houston.
BOWL PREDICTIONS ... Website CBS SportsLine, as do many media outlets, publishes Bowl predictions on a weekly basis, following the results of each week’s games. So far this season, Oregon has changed potential Bowl sites and/or opponents every week except one. Before the opener, the Ducks were slated to face Wyoming in the Armed Forces Bowl. After beating Houston, UO moved up to the Emerald Bowl vs. Boise State, and after the Sept. 8 win at Michigan, the Ducks were pegged for a Sun Bowl showdown with Rutgers. UO stayed in the Sun Bowl picture after the Stanford win and bumped to the Holiday Bowl vs. Texas after losing to Cal. The Ducks moved up to the Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma after downing Washington State and are currently slated to face West Virginia in the Rose Bowl for a second straight week following the Oct. 27 win over USC.
COLLEGE GRADUATES ... Four Oregon seniors take to the football field this fall as college graduates, while two others already has completed his requirements in his major and is expected to graduate by the end of the fall term. SR QB Brady Leaf (political science/business minor), SR LS Eric Steimer (political science), SR OG Josh Tschirgi (political science) and LB A.J. Tuitele (political science) already have earned their undergraduate degrees, while SR OT Geoff Schwartz (political science) and SR QB Dennis Dixon (sociology) will do so by the end of December.
NFL PEDIGREE ... No fewer than five Oregon players have fathers who played in the National Football League, with the names of their fathers and their NFL career listed in parenthesis. Included are SO CB Jairus Byrd (Gill Byrd, DB - San Diego, 1983-92), FR DT Tonio Celotto (Mario Celotto, LB - Buffalo, Oakland and Los Angeles Rams, 1977-83), JR LB Erik Elshire (Neil Elshire, DE - Minnesota, 1981-86), SR FS Matthew Harper (Willie Harper, DE - San Francisco, 1973-83) and FR LB Casey Matthews (Clay Matthews, LB - Cleveland and Atlanta, 1978-96).
STEWART EARNS CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK ... JR RB Jonathan Stewart earned Week 8 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week honors after rushing for a career-high 251 yards and two touchdowns at Washington on Oct. 20. It was the second-highest total in UO history and most rushing yardage in the Pac-10 since the 2005 season. The award was Stewart’s first Offensive POTW. He received the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week honor following the regular season finale in 2005.
DIXON NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK AGAIN ... For the second time this season, SR QB Dennis Dixon was named the Pac-10’s Offensive Player of the Week (Week 4). Dixon accounted for career-highs of five touchdowns (4 pass, 1 rush), 367 passing yards and 27 completions in leading Oregon to a 55-31 road win against Stanford on Sept. 22. The senior from San Leandro, Calif., also took home the award in Week 2, following his four-touchdown performance in the Ducks’ 39-7 victory at Michigan. Dixon is the first Duck to earn multiple offensive POTW awards in the same season since quarterback Joey Harrington in 2001 (Oct. 6 & Nov. 3).
THE DIXON AWARDS ... In addition to SR QB Dennis Dixon’s Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week award for Week 2, Dixon was named both the Rivals.com and USA Today national POTW.
REED’S BIG DAY EARNS NATIONAL, PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS ... JR DE Nick Reed was named the national Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation as well as the Pac-10 defensive POTW for Week 7. Reed led the Ducks’ defensive resurgence in the 53-7 Homecoming victory over Washington State Oct. 13, recording career highs of 3.5 sacks. 11 total tackles (6 solo) and 5.0 tackles for loss.
MIRACLE MAN ... SR FS Ryan DePalo completed his miraculous comeback from a torn ACL is his right knee, making a first-quarter tackle in the season opener, 18 weeks removed from surgery. When he suffered the injury during spring drills it appeared his return would be delayed until the Bowl season.
ON THE DIAMOND ... Despite not playing baseball since the summer of 2003, SR QB Dennis Dixon was a fifth-round choice of the Atlanta Braves (168th overall) in this summer’s Amateur Baseball Draft. Dixon, who turned down an offer to play for the Cincinnati Reds when he was picked in the 20th round in the 2003 draft, returned to Eugene one week prior to the start of fall camp. He began the summer playing for the Gulf Coast Braves in Kissimmee, Fla., before finishing his summer stint with the Danville (VA) Braves. In 28 games, the outfielder accumulated 13 hits in 74 at bats, accounted for eight runs scored and seven RBIs, while stealing five bases without being thrown out. Finishing with a .188 average in Florida, he connected for five hits in his last 12 at bats before spending a final week in Virginia. Although Oregon has not fielded a baseball team since 1981, Dixon isn’t the Ducks’ first quarterback to pursue a baseball career. Chris Miller spent the summer of 1986 playing baseball in the Seattle Mariners’ organization before returning to earn first-team all-conference honors on the football field for the second year in a row.
SECOND TO NONE ... Individual standouts in the secondary have been one of Oregon’s strong suits over the years, with a collection of defensive backs that led the Ducks to the Rose Bowl in 1994 among the best. Four of standouts that played on that team were eventually drafted into the NFL, spanning from senior All-Americans Chad Cota and Herman O’Berry, and junior Alex Molden to freshman Kenny Wheaton. Cornerbacks Rashad Bauman and Steve Smith were multiple year-all conference honorees in the early years of this decade. If last year is an accurate indication, a current contingent of standout defensive backs may rival those groups. JR ROV Patrick Chung returns as the leader of the group as has finished among his team’s top three tacklers in each of his first two seasons. Seldom has Oregon enjoyed the exploits from a pair of young cornerbacks any more than Jairus Byrd and Walter Thurmond III, who helped Oregon lead the Pac-10 in pass defense last year as redshirt freshmen. Byrd finished third in the league in interceptions (5) and Chung tied for seventh (4), while Byrd (12) and Chung (10) ranked seventh and eighth, respectively, in passes defended.
CONSECUTIVE SELLOUTS ... Oregon has sold out all five home games this season, running its streak to 53 straight dating back to the 1999 season. Included in this season’s capacity crowds were the two largest ever at Autzen Stadium when the Ducks drew 59,273 for Cal on Sept. 29 and 59,277 for USC on Oct. 27. The last game that fell short of a sellout was vs. Nevada (41,374) on Sept. 18, 1999. USC came to Autzen Stadium the following week, with the Ducks prevailing in a triple-overtime thriller.
NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS ... The Ducks have amassed a 27-1 record in non-conference games in Autzen Stadium during Mike Bellotti’s head coaching tenure. Their lone home loss during that span was dealt by Indiana (30-24) to open the 2004 season. Overall, Oregon has accumulated a 39-5 non-league slate in Bellotti’s 13 years at the helm.
ATTENDANCE RECORD ... The Ducks played in front of the largest crowd in school history when they traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., to face the Wolverines on Sept. 8. Michigan Stadium, aka the Big House, which lists a capacity of 107,501, had 109,733 to watch the Big Ten/Pac-10 battle. The largest crowd Oregon had played in front of prior to that was in the 1995 Rose Bowl when 102,247 spectators watched the conference champions face Penn State.
ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY RETURNS TO EUGENE ... ESPN College GameDay, the premier college football pre-game show, made its second ever appearance in Eugene for the Sept. 29 game against Cal. The 15-year show’s only visits to the Pacific Northwest have been at Oregon.
MORE STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE ... Oregon’s 12 2007 opponents accumulated an 88-65 record (.575) a year ago, with seven of the foes advancing to bowl games.
RECORD TICKET SALES ... Oregon has established a record for season-ticket sales for the 10th year in a row. The Ducks already have sold 43,242 tickets on a season basis, exceeding last year’s mark in excess of 42,600 season tickets. A year ago, the school averaged 58,378 fans per game in a stadium that boasts a capacity of 54,000.