Oregon has boasted the nation's top offense through two games in Autzen Stadium, racking up yard after yard and score after score in a pair of blowout wins.
Now it will see if it can find similar success on the road.
The No. 16 Ducks will make their first visit to West Lafayette in nearly 29 years on Saturday when they face a Purdue team looking to snap a 14-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
Oregon (2-0) had the fifth-best total offense in the country in early November last season before faltering down the stretch, losing senior quarterback Dennis Dixon to a knee injury and three of its final four games.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Oregon –7.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 79% of bets for this game have been placed on Oregon -7.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Dixon is gone, but so far the Ducks offense is back to being the top-flight unit it was before he was hurt last season. Oregon has racked up an average of 592.0 yards in its first two wins, scoring 110 points in the process.
The Ducks tried two quarterbacks to replace Dixon late last season, but after both struggled, they turned to Justin Roper. A redshirt freshman at the time, Roper shined in Oregon's Sun Bowl win over South Florida, throwing four touchdown passes to dilute the memory of three straight losses to end the regular season.
Yet he wasn't going to be the starter to open 2008 until Nate Costa went down with a season-ending knee injury. Roper then suffered a concussion early in the Ducks' season-opening 44-10 win over Washington, and didn't practice until Wednesday leading up to the team's game against Utah State last Saturday.
Roper returned against the Aggies, though, throwing for a touchdown and running for another as Oregon piled up a school-record 688 yards of offense in a 66-24 victory. The Ducks had seven rushing touchdowns, including two from LeGarrette Blount, who ran for 132 yards.
"Our mentality was we don't care who we play, on offense we're going to score every time we get the ball," Roper said.
The lone negative for Oregon was an injury to senior running back Jeremiah Johnson, who ran for 37 yards on his lone carry last Saturday before dislocating his right shoulder. But coach Mike Bellotti said he was merely held out as a precaution, and expects Johnson to be ready to go against Purdue (1-0).
The Ducks had to replace the production of Jonathan Stewart, who ran for 1,798 yards a year ago, and Johnson and Blount have gotten off to a good start. Blount, a junior college transfer, reveled in his first two trips to the end zone.
"Right about now I'm on top of the world," he said. "I've been thinking about what it's going to be like (to score), and it's lovely."
Oregon will try to beat a Big Ten team on the road for the second straight year after last season's 38-7 thrashing of Michigan. The odds would seem to be in the Ducks' favor - Purdue is 12-34 against ranked opponents under coach Joe Tiller, losing 14 straight dating to a 27-14 win over No. 10 Iowa on Nov. 8, 2003.
The Boilermakers got their season started last week with a 42-10 rout of Football Championship Subdivision member Northern Colorado. It was Tiller's 84th win in West Lafayette, tying him with Jack Mollenkopf for the most in school history.
"It doesn't mean that much to me personally, but it's an honor to be in his class," Tiller said.
Purdue had the Big Ten's top total offense and passing attack in 2007, and it's expected to rely heavily on its passing game again. Senior quarterback Curtis Painter led the league with 29 touchdowns last season, and tossed two last Saturday.
Painter's top targets are senior Desmond Tardy and Greg Orton, who combined for 201 yards receiving in the opener, and after playing two teams that relied on multithreat quarterbacks, Bellotti is concerned about facing a pocket passer like Painter.
"I love our secondary and really like our defense, but they'll be tested as they've not been tested this year," Bellotti said. "(Painter) will buy time in the pocket and allow routes to develop."
Oregon lost 13-7 at Purdue on Sept. 29, 1979, the only previous meeting between the schools.
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