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UW's Polk is in the running

LOS ANGELES — Oregon Coach Chip Kelly called him "one of the best backs in the country," and he wasn't talking about his own LaMichael James or Kenjon Barner, who certainly fit that description.

Instead, he was aiming his praise north up Interstate 5 to Washington's Chris Polk, whose 127-yards-per-game rushing average leads the Pacific 12 Conference and is fifth nationally.

Kelly's No. 6-ranked Ducks will try to slow Polk Saturday at Husky Stadium.

But Polk's own coach, Steve Sarkisian, topped Kelly's praise when he compared the back to a pair of notable ballcarriers who were at USC when Sarkisian was an assistant coach for the Trojans.

"He really is a cross between LenDale (White) and Reggie (Bush), quite honestly," Sarkisian said Tuesday during the weekly Pac-12 football coaches' conference call.

Polk, a 5-foot-11, 222-pound junior, is having a dynamite season.

He exploded for five touchdowns — four rushing, one receiving — against Arizona last Saturday while becoming the first Husky with at least 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game. Polk had 144 yards rushing in 33 carries and caught four passes for 100 yards.

"I do know if you're going to have a Heisman Trophy conversation, Chris Polk's name should be in that conversation," Sarkisian said during a news conference Monday.

BEAR-LY TOLERABLE — California Coach Jeff Tedford wants a quarterback who is consistent and doesn't turn the ball over.

That doesn't sound much like Zach Maynard, who ranks 81st nationally in passing efficiency and has had seven passes intercepted in the last three games — including four against UCLA.

But Maynard is still Cal's starter — for now.

With the Golden Bears preparing to host Washington State on Saturday, that leaves the door nudged open for the backup Allan Bridgford, a former Mission Viejo High quarterback who has appeared in two games this season.

Maynard played well in Cal's first three games, throwing for nine touchdowns with three interceptions.

In the next five games — four of them losses — he has three touchdowns and seven interceptions.