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Oregon, South Florida fall from No. 2, will meet in Sun Bowl

EUGENE — Once upon a time, not so long ago, both Oregon and South Florida had dreams of football championships dancing in their heads.

Both the Bulls of the Big East Conference and the Ducks of the Pac-10 spent time as the No. 2 ranked team in the Associated Press poll and Bowl Championship Series rankings this fall.

But with BCS bowl aspirations long since expired, the two green and gold clad teams will close the year — literally — on Dec. 31 in the Brut Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

South Florida upset Big East champion West Virginia on Sept. 28 and was ranked No. 2 after a win over Central Florida on Oct. 13.

But consecutive losses to Rutgers, Connecticut and Cincinnati doomed any hopes of a first Big East title.

Oregon finished tied fourth in the conference with UCLA, which beat the Ducks 16-0 on Nov. 24. Oregon is 0-3 since QB Dennis Dixon left a loss to Arizona with a torn ACL on Nov. 15.

With Dixon and backup Brady Leaf both out for the year, the Ducks relied heavily on tailback Jonathan Stewart, who ran 39 times for 163 yards in a 38-31 overtime loss to Oregon State.

"I'm a little down about this game," Stewart said. "I'm not going to lie."

This will be Oregon's third trip to the Sun Bowl. The Ducks beat SMU in 1963, beat Minnesota in 1999 and lost to the Gophers in 2003. The game will be nationally televised by CBS.