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Another chance

EUGENE — When Oregon announced it was playing a home-and-home with Nebraska a few years ago, coach Mark Helfrich joked that Scott Frost wasn’t allowed to be on the home team’s sideline at Memorial Stadium.

Frost, who quarterbacked the Cornhuskers to a share of the 1997 national championship, did leave his position as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator to be a head coach at Central Florida.

But not before Mike Riley, Oregon State’s longtime coach, was hired to take over the Nebraska program in 2015.

“That is bizarre,” Helfrich said of having to face his old in-state rival in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday. “We were talking about that when coach Riley took the Nebraska job, that would have been the office pool of all office pools on that one.”

It won’t erase seven years of Civil War misery, but Riley can exorcise some personal demons by coaching Nebraska to a quality non-conference victory over No. 22 Oregon (12:30 p.m., ABC).

Before leaving Corvallis for the Cornhuskers, Oregon State lost seven consecutive meetings with the Ducks on Riley’s watch.

“This one,” Riley said after the Huskers improved to 2-0 with a win over Wyoming, “being who they are and what they mean nationally and where we want to go, this is exciting.”

Helfrich and his offensive staff should be salivating at the chance to compete against Riley’s longtime defensive coordinator, Mark Banker.

The Beavers allowed an average of 578 yards and 45.6 points per game in those seven losses to Oregon.

“I can’t say there’s a lot of love in my heart right there,” Banker told the Omaha World-Herald when asked about the reunion with Oregon. “They’re gonna come in here high flying, and we’re gonna see what we’re made out of.”

The Ducks (2-0) are averaging 48.5 points and are ranked eighth nationally in total offense (577.0 yards per game) after beating up on an FCS team (UC Davis) and a struggling ACC program (Virginia).

Dakota Prukop is averaging 301 yards passing with six touchdowns and no interceptions through two starts at Oregon.

The offense got rolling with four consecutive touchdown drives during the 44-26 win over the Cavaliers.

Royce Freeman rolled for 207 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Devon Allen exploded for 141 yards receiving with a 77-yard touchdown.

Room to improve

Oregon’s defense remains a work in progress two games into the Brady Hoke era. The Ducks allowed Virginia, which had 38 yards on the ground in a loss to Richmond, to rush for 193 yards.

Hoke was more concerned with some “mind-boggling” penalties that kept drives alive for the Cavs.

“We’ve got some guys who haven’t played a whole lot of snaps, but at the same time it’s big-boy football,” Hoke said. “You’ve got to be ready to play.”

The Ducks are 80th nationally in scoring defense (27 ppg) and 82nd in total defense (390 ypg). Nebraska’s offense is averaging 47.5 points and 478 yards.

Some bright spots for Hoke include the pass rush. Defensive end Jalen Jelks, who had an interception in the opener, had two of Oregon’s six sacks against Virginia.

Redshirt freshmen Drayton Carlberg and Gus Cumberlander each had their first career sack, and backup safeties Brenden Schooler and Khalil Oliver each had an interception against the Cavs.

With starting linebackers Johnny Ragin and A.J. Hotchkins questionable for Saturday’s game, the depth the coaching staff bragged about during fall camp will be tested.

“I guess we’ll find out about some of those young linebackers that we’re so excited about,” Helfrich said. “We just need to package appropriately, maybe get a veteran guy in there with a young guy or a cover guy in there with a non-cover guy, all those kind of ins and outs, kind of patch it together.”

Poll moves

Oregon moved up two spots to No. 22 in the Associated Press poll released Sunday.

Stanford, which was idle, remained at No. 7, one spot ahead of Washington. Four other Pac-12 teams, Utah, UCLA, Colorado and Arizona State, received votes.

The top five remains the same, although Clemson slipped from No. 2 to No. 5 behind Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Michigan, which beat Frost’s Central Florida team 51-14 on Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Oregon is No. 21 in the coaches poll.


Freeman moved into 10th place on Oregon’s career all-purpose yards list with 4,035. The junior running back passed Bobby Moore (3,898 yards, 1969-71). … Oregon has outscored its opponents 34-0 in the second quarter en route to halftime leads of 25-7 and 30-6. Nebraska has outscored its opponents 50-0 in the fourth quarter to run away from Fresno State (43-10) and Wyoming (52-17) late.

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley will try to erase a seven-game losing streak to Oregon on Saturday when the No. 22 Ducks visit Lincoln. Riley coached Oregon State when it dropped seven straight Civil Wars, allowing an average of 45.6 pionts per game. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/NATI HARNIK