by Rob Moseley
The newly compiled Bowl Championship Series rankings released Sunday saw Oregon jump past Florida State into the No. 2 spot, putting the Ducks into position to play for the national championship should they avoid slipping over the next few weeks.
A week ago, Oregon was No. 3 with a .9320 average in standings that utilize two human polls and six computer rankings. Florida State was at No. 2 with a .9348 average, and Alabama was No. 1 at .9841.
On Sunday, Alabama had strengthened its hold on the top spot, at .9937. But Oregon is now in second, with a .9517 average, and the Seminoles slipped to .9211.
Oregon is as high as No. 2 for the third time in four years, and the fourth time overall. The Ducks were No. 1 or No. 2 in all eight BCS rankings before playing for the title in 2010, and were No. 2 for one week each in 2007 and 2012.
In 2007, the Ducks lost on a Thursday night the week after reaching No. 2, and last season they lost to Stanford after doing so. This season both trends will be in play, with Oregon playing at BCS No. 5 Stanford on Thursday, Nov. 7, after a bye this weekend.
"All of that stuff doesn't matter for a couple more months," UO coach Mark Helfrich said Sunday afternoon, before attending the Oregon men's basketball team's exhibition opener. "All of those numbers will change. We just need to worry about ourselves."
The Ducks will hold three practices this week, Tuesday through Thursday, "to try to get our young guys a bunch of work, and then also get healthy," Helfrich said.
Preparation for the Stanford game will begin Saturday. The Ducks will look to avenge their 17-14 overtime loss to the Cardinal last season, the only blemish on a 12-1 season.
"There's some things they did really well last year, and things we didn't do so well," Helfrich said. "That's on us as coaches, to flop that ratio."
Among the biggest challenges the Ducks will face should be Stanford's veteran front seven. Oregon received a stiff test for its offensive line against UCLA's athletic defensive linemen and linebackers, and the Cardinal could present an even tougher challenge due to a more diverse scheme.
"In terms of a 3-4 team that plays a bunch of guys with talent, and a physical, fast defense, they're very similar," Helfrich said. "… (Stanford) is a bunch of experienced guys that are playing really well. They've done a great job of varying things — they look a little bit different every week, but they're always playing hard and always sound."