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  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Upsets give Ducks faint BCS hope

    Alamo is most likely bowl, but more shake-up could be in offing
  • EUGENE — Forget the Alamo?
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  • EUGENE — Forget the Alamo?
    A trip to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl, a Pac-12 vs. Big 12 matchup, on Dec. 30 is the most likely postseason scenario for No. 12 Oregon.
    But enough dominoes began to fall over the weekend to keep the Ducks' hopes alive for a fifth consecutive BCS bowl appearance.
    "It's so bizarre. There are so many things. "¦ It's even more reinforcement of handling your business and why it's so important to handle your business every week," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said of the wild finish to the regular season.
    Previously undefeated Fresno State lost to San Jose State, eliminating the Bulldogs as a BCS buster candidate. Northern Illinois can crash the party for a second straight year if the Huskies (12-0) can avoid an upset in the MAC championship game on Friday against Bowling Green.
    Clemson's loss at South Carolina drops the Tigers to 10-2. Baylor, which hosts Texas on Friday, and Michigan State, which plays Ohio State in Big Ten title game on Saturday, also figure to be in the mix with Oregon as at-large BCS candidates.
    The Rose Bowl gets the winner of the Pac-12 championship game between Arizona State (10-2) and Stanford (10-2). The Alamo Bowl has the first choice of the conference's bowls after the BCS pairings are set.
    After the Ducks' (10-2) finished the regular season with a 36-35 victory over Oregon State on Friday, Helfrich digested some of the drama around the country — including Auburn's stunning victory over top-ranked Alabama — with the leftover turkey.
    "It's the original reality TV," Helfrich said. "You look at Ohio State-Michigan. "¦ I doubt many people had that final score and how it played out in the end. As a coach that's what makes you stay up at night and make sure you've crossed every T and dotted every I."
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    'SCARIEST' SCENARIO: Speaking of paying attention to every detail, Alabama's quest for a third consecutive national championship was derailed when Chris Davis returned a missed field goal from the back of his own end zone for a touchdown to give Auburn a 34-28 victory on the final play of the Iron Bowl.
    Even though the Ducks have attempted only 10 field goals all season, none over 50 yards and only one over 40 yards, Helfrich said the field goal return is something his team has practiced.
    "We do and that's one of the scariest things there is," Helfrich said. "You're protecting with five offensive linemen usually. Then you have a holder and a kicker and potentially a long snapper, who sometimes is a position player and sometimes is a long snapper, and that cuts down on your position guys.
    "It's like covering a punt with four guys. It's scary. You want to hold your breath."
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    CIVIL WAR REWIND: After reviewing the film from the Ducks' one-point win over the Beavers, Helfrich said Oregon didn't play a clean game but the fourth-quarter comeback is what the rivalry is all about.
    "Both teams played with tremendous emotion," Helfrich said. "There was great back-and-forth in the second half, and from our standpoint obviously a fantastic finish. Anything can happen in those games, and it did."
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    BCS-OR-BUST STANDARD: Helfrich, who has matched the Oregon record for wins by a first-year coach set by Chip Kelly in 2009, was asked about being measured against his predecessor's lofty win-loss standards.
    "No, it doesn't bother me. It's part of the deal," Helfrich said. "We're at a place where if the record doesn't end in hyphen-zero, there's speculation."
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    RANKINGS UPDATE: Oregon remained No. 12 in the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls. The Ducks moved up from No. 13 to No. 12 in the latest BCS standings released Sunday night.
    The new top five: 1. Florida State, 2. Ohio State, 3. Auburn, 4. Alabama and 5. Missouri.
    Pac-12 North Division champion Stanford is No. 7 and South Division champion Arizona State is No. 11. UCLA is No. 18.
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