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  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    No. 2 Ducks back on SI cover, hoping to avoid jinx

  • Marcus Mariota is the latest Oregon quarterback to be a cover boy for Sports Illustrated.
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  • Marcus Mariota is the latest Oregon quarterback to be a cover boy for Sports Illustrated.
    The magazine has two covers split across the country this week, one for the World Series and one with Mariota titled "The Colossus".
    The cover reads "Oregon redefined West Coast football. Now it's time to conquer America (They're coming for you, SEC)."
    The covers were released while Oregon practiced Wednesday morning, so the Ducks had not seen it as they walked off the field.
    "If that's the case, it is great for him and the program and fans, but it won't have any ramifications on our game," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said after Oregon's second practice this week in preparation for its next game at Stanford on Nov. 7.
    Helfrich was asked about the legendary SI jinx.
    "If we are (on the cover), then I don't believe in it," he joked. "There's no scientific data out there, I'm sure. Is there science behind that? I want to be on the side of science."
    Senior writer Austin Murphy's story is about how the balance of power in the Pac-12 Conference has shifted to Stanford and Oregon in recent years. It talks about how Oregon and Stanford have never been considered rivals in college football, but by combining to win the past four conference titles and with each going into next week ranked in the top five of the BCS, it has become the game of the year in the conference.
    "This game will have everything," it reads. "It's Oregon's second-ranked offense, led by quarterback Marcus Mariota, against Stanford inside linebacker Shayne Skov and the Cardinal's 25th-ranked D. It's a play-in to the Pac-12 title game, and the latest dramatization of the conference's power shift from Los Angeles. It's a clash of fashions — the Cardinal's basic red-and-white versus whatever space-age design the Ducks are rocking — and of course philosophies reflected by those units: Stanford's old-school, smash mouth power game versus Oregon's no-huddle, hurry-up, Blur attack."
    Helfrich applauds'improvement week'
    Oregon practiced Tuesday and Wednesday and will return to the field today before taking today off. On Saturday, the Ducks will begin a usual game week, but this week has been labeled an "improvement week" by Helfrich.
    "Improvement week is going well," Helfrich said. "We got a bunch of stuff in every phase as far as Stanford goes. We've got a bunch of young guys some team work in our system that they don't normally get, so we are off to a good start."
    Helfrich said last year's loss to Stanford should not be needed for inspiration this week.
    "Our guys, in general, don't need lot of motivation, but if any kind of that makes you have a better Tuesday, great," he said. "If it gets you mad that we didn't play very well last year to make you practice great today, I'm all for it."
    Several Ducks award semifinalists
    Mariota has been named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award for the collegiate player of the year.
    The sophomore is completing 64 percent of his passes for 2,281 yards and 20 touchdowns without an interception. He has also run for 511 yards and nine touchdowns.
    Cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year. The junior was also selected as a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the top defensive back in the country.
    Ekpre-Olomu has 44 tackles, including 25 solo, and two interceptions.
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