Ducks begin prepping for Civil War
EUGENE — Mark Helfrich isn’t going to tell the Ducks to throw out the records or that anything can happen in a rivalry game.
Oregon’s coach just wants his players to continue to make corrections, practice fast and play even better against Oregon State on Friday at Autzen Stadium (1 p.m., Fox Sports 1).
“It’s absolutely all about us,” Helfrich said. “We don’t want to reference our improvement, or lack thereof, against anybody else but us.”
The Ducks (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) have been the Pac-12’s best team in the second half of the season and are riding a five-game winning streak entering the Civil War.
Vernon Adams Jr. had more touchdown passes (six) than incompletions (five) during Oregon’s impressive 48-28 victory over USC.
“I think there’s been gradual improvement,” Helfrich said. “Our guys and our coaches have done a great job of being very realistic and just kind of sticking with it. Obviously, having the quarterback play and what has gone on there is a measurable factor because that makes everybody better.”
Oregon continued its late-season ascension in the Associated Press poll, moving up five spots this week to No. 18.
No. 13 Stanford, which clinched the North Division on Saturday night with a victory over California, is the Pac-12’s only hope for representation in the College Football Playoff.
“I watched most of it,” Helfrich said. “Congratulations to Stanford, unfortunately.”
With a healthy Adams at the controls of the conference’s top scoring offense (42.4 ppg), rushing offense (285.9 ypg) and total offense (536.7 ypg), the Ducks could be an attractive at-large candidate for a New Year’s Day Six bowl like the Fiesta Bowl.
“I think we’re playing really well right now,” offensive coordinator Scott Frost said. “I don’t think our kids would be afraid of anyone.”
Meanwhile, the Beavers (2-9. 0-8) have lost eight consecutive games and opened as 33½-point underdogs for the 119th Civil war.
First-year coach Gary Andersen will need an upset for the ages to avoid going winless in conference play, something Mike Riley experienced during his first season at Oregon State in 1997.
The Beavers gave up 45 points in the first half of Saturday’s 52-7 home loss to Washington. True freshman quarterback Jake Browning was 18-for-20 passing for 211 yards with four touchdowns for the Huskies.
Adams was 20-for-25 passing for 407 yards with six touchdowns and one interception against the Trojans, who can still win the South Division with a victory over UCLA.
“That’s hopefully a sign of development that you’re beating a team that’s really good, that’s hot, that is extremely talented and you’re still overcoming some of your own mistakes,” Helfrich said.