Quack Attack

A string of injuries at quarterback didn't stop Oregon from recording an impressive victory in its season opener.

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With starter Justin Roper expected to return from a concussion he suffered early in that game, the Ducks expect to be even better in their second contest.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Oregon -35.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 76% of bets for this game have been placed on Oregon -35.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

The 18th-ranked Ducks hope to find some stability under center as they host Utah State on Saturday.

Oregon faced a tall task in the offseason in trying to replace quarterback Dennis Dixon, last year's Pac-10 offensive player of the year who was taken in the fifth round of the NFL draft.

After handing the job to Nate Costa, the Ducks were dealt another blow when the sophomore underwent season-ending knee surgery just days before the opener.

Roper made the start Saturday and went 7-for-11 for 114 yards, a touchdown and an interception before he was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a minor concussion.

Oregon then turned to junior college transfer Jeremiah Masoli, who completed nine of 17 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns as the Ducks cruised to a 44-10 victory over conference rival Washington. Freshman quarterback Chris Harper also took a handful of snaps in the second half.

"I'm proud of them," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said of his two reserves. "They weren't perfect, but they made things happen."

As well as Roper's backups fared in their surprise debuts, Bellotti expects Roper to return Saturday as the Ducks try to build on the win.

Roper could get some additional protection with standout left tackle Fenuki Tupou returning from a one-game suspension for accepting a meal and receiving $100 from the representative of a professional sport management firm.

The 6-foot-6, 330-pound senior served the one-game, NCAA-imposed suspension last Saturday. He reported his actions to the athletic department earlier in the week and turned the money over to its compliance office, said Dave Williford, a department spokesman.

Roper and Tupou should bolster an offense that totaled 496 yards and scored 23 fourth-quarter points last week.

As well as his team moved the ball, however, Bellotti may have been more impressed with the defense. The Ducks held the Huskies scoreless in the second half, and limited Washington quarterback Jake Locker to 103 yards passing and 57 rushing after he compiled 257 and 78, respectively, against Oregon last season.

The Ducks' defensive strides don't bode well for the Aggies, who lost their season opener 27-17 at UNLV. Utah State converted three of 15 third-down opportunities, and coach Brent Guy knows his team could have a hard time bouncing back at Autzen Stadium, where Oregon is 16-4 in its last 20 games.

"We'll have a great challenge this week in going to Oregon," Guy said. "It is a very hard place for an offensive team to go into and execute. It will be a challenge for our offense because of the type of environment that they have and they are as impressive an Oregon team as I have seen. They deserve to be ranked where they are."

Utah State has lost 19 straight against ranked teams since upsetting No. 25 Fresno State in 1991, including six in a row under Guy. The Aggies are also winless in three all-time meetings with the Ducks.

Utah State running back Robert Turbin still expects the Aggies to compete.

"Oregon is going to be a great place to play. They have a terrific history and tradition," he said. "But we're going down there to try to win a football game, regardless of what they're ranked or what they've done in the past."

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