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Still too early to hit the panic button

EUGENE — Nothing screams doomsday like an early-season blowout loss at home.

So it was the end of an era for Oregon last weekend and Black Saturday in Arizona.

Just like the previous week when USC’s 41-31 loss to Stanford marked the beginning of the end for coach Steve Sarkisian. Except that the Trojans went to Arizona State for a 42-14 victory that filled up the USC bandwagon once again.

“I said it last week, the sky is not falling in the McKay Center, we’ll be okay, and the players understood it and went out and played a heck of a game,” Sarkisian said.

There is no need for ASU coach Todd Graham to even give that speech because his team has done the same thing USC did last week during each of the past two seasons.

Two years ago, the Sun Devils were 2-0 until a 42-28 loss at Stanford. Arizona State beat USC 62-41 the next week, the first of eight consecutive conference victories that clinched the South Division. ASU was 3-0 last year before a 62-27 home loss to UCLA, but then won five consecutive Pac-12 games, beginning with a 38-34 victory over the Trojans.

“We have a veteran team that is disappointed in how we played last week, but there is not time to sit around and do that,” Graham said. “We had the best practice we had all year on Monday so our guys know how to respond.”

About 100 miles down Interstate 10, Rich Rodriguez had similar sentiments after he met his players the day after a 56-30 loss to UCLA.

“We go on Sundays, so we can have the 24-hour rule where we talk about the game if we win or lose and then we watch film, make corrections, and move on,” Rodriguez said. “We had a good session and they realize how important it is to bounce back and get ready for a good Stanford team on the road.”

The first conference loss has led to different endings for Oregon in the past two seasons, and the Ducks will find out Saturday night in Colorado how they react to being blown away 62-20 by Utah.

In 2013, Oregon lost 26-20 at Stanford and then two weeks later lost at Arizona, 42-16, to fall into the Alamo Bowl and end a run of four consecutive years in a BCS game. Last year, Oregon was 1-1 in the conference after a 31-24 loss to Arizona, then won nine consecutive games to reach the College Football Playoff championship.

“Use whatever analogy you want to get everyone rolling in the same direction,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. “Plant your feet deeper, re-grip the oar and row. Put guys in a few different seats and then realize where your seat is and row and do your job.”

It’s an unfamiliar seat for Helfrich and his players who have never lost by more than a touchdown at Autzen Stadium.

“So many of our guys have not been through that kind of game and we haven’t in a long time, so you break down why things happened and where things happened,” Helfrich said. “After a win or a loss you go back and look at what you have to improve on and move forward.”