STANFORD, Calif. — Coach Mark Helfrich may not hold the cards, but he's not going to fold after one loss.
Oregon's BCS national championship hopes were dimmed by Stanford again after a 26-20 loss on Thursday night at Stanford Stadium.
Helfrich knows there's a strong chance the 8-1 Ducks won't be the only contender to hit the canvas this November.
"It's not very easy right now," Helfrich said. "Obviously our guys know the landscape of things, we all do, but we don't control any of that. Things are going to happen this weekend that will be weird. That's one of the reasons you need to go back and get treatment and take care of our details and come back fighting next week. And I know our guys will."
No. 1 Alabama took down No. 13 LSU Saturday. The defending national champions still have to navigate their way through a road game at rival Auburn and the SEC championship game before making travel plans for Pasadena, Calif.
Florida State, which was No. 2 in the BCS standings this week, one spot ahead of Oregon, routed Wake Forest, then plays at Florida and at the ACC championship game in Charlotte, N.C., in order to play for the crystal ball trophy.
Unbeaten Baylor still plays No. 25 Texas Tech, No 14 Oklahoma State and a Texas team that is currently 6-0 in the Big 12. Ohio State will have to beat Michigan in Ann Arbor and avoid a pratfall in the Big Ten championship game to keep Urban Meyer's perfect record with the Buckeyes intact.
And Stanford, the defending Pac-12 champion, could still open the door for the Ducks to win the North Division with a slip-up at USC or in the "Big Game" against Cal. The Cardinal finish the regular season against Notre Dame.
"It's not like the season is over; we're not just going to keel over and die," Oregon left tackle Tyler Johnstone said. "That's not us, that's not Oregon. Yeah, we're bummed, but we got beat by a good team."
Now that Stanford is in the rear-view mirror, the biggest issue facing the Ducks is the health of Marcus Mariota. The starting quarterback is clearly hobbled by a left knee injury, which requires him to wear a cumbersome brace and prevented Oregon's offense from threatening the Cardinal with the read option.
At separate postgame news conferences, Helfrich and Mariota wouldn't get into details about how serious the injury is. Eugene station KVAL reported before the game that Mariota is dealing with a partial MCL sprain.
Ducks fans are having flashbacks to Dennis Dixon's knee injury at Arizona in 2007, which derailed his Heisman Trophy bid and Oregon's national-championship run.
Mariota's longest run on Thursday was for 8 yards on a scramble. He finished with minus-16 yards rushing after getting sacked three times and losing a fumble.
Stanford's defense homed in on the running backs, holding Byron Marshall to 46 yards on 11 attempts and De'Anthony Thomas to 30 yards on six attempts.
After seeing Cardinal red again, perhaps Utah red will be a welcome sight next Saturday at Autzen Stadium (1 p.m., Fox Sports 1).
"We don't circle it on the calendar or anything. It's just they happen to come out and play well," Mariota said of Stanford, the only team he has lost to as Oregon's starter. "Now it's on to the next one. We have to keep focusing on it."