Pasadena, CA - A pair of dominant performances have given Oregon a strong start in Pac-10 play. Having quarterback Jeremiah Masoli healthy could help keep it going.
The 13th-ranked Ducks look to win a fifth consecutive game for the first time in nearly four years Saturday when they visit UCLA.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made Oregon -6 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on Oregon -6 (View College Football bet percentages).
Oregon (4-1, 2-0) is on a four-game winning streak after opening the season with a 19-8 loss at then-No. 14 Boise State to fall out of the Top 25.
That defeat was marred by running back LaGarrette Blount punching Broncos defensive end Byron Hout in the face as Boise State celebrated. Blount was suspended for the rest of the season, but could return by Nov. 7 if he meets certain criteria set by first-year coach Chip Kelly.
While Blount has been out, Kelly guided the team back into the AP poll with a stunning 42-3 win over then-No. 6 California on Sept. 26 and Oregon climbed three spots after a 52-6 win over Washington State last Saturday.
The Ducks, who haven't won a league title since 2001, join Stanford and Arizona as the only Pac-10 teams without a conference loss. They haven't opened 3-0 in Pac-10 play since 2001.
They're in position to win five in a row overall for the first time since a seven-game run from Oct. 1-Nov. 19, 2005.
They're expected to have Masoli back under center after he injured his knee during the second quarter last Saturday and exited the game with a 35-0 lead.
"We would have taken him out anyway," Kelly said. "He played that last series and he was done."
Masoli, who has a team-leading five rushing touchdowns, is considered day-to-day and Kelly described him as being "in good spirits."
The junior had completed 14 of 18 passes for 116 yards and a TD while rushing for 52 yards and a score on seven carries before getting hurt. That performance came a week after he engineered the upset of Cal by going 21 of 25 for a season-high 253 yards and three touchdowns.
It's a big change from his performance in three non-conference games, when he completed 45.3 percent of his passes with no TDs and two interceptions.
If Masoli struggles with the injury, Kelly will likely use backup Nate Costa, who went 7 for 9 for 80 yards and ran for a touchdown against Washington State.
Ed Dickson has emerged as Masoli's top target, catching 18 passes for 251 yards and four scores in two games after totaling four receptions for 58 yards during the first three. The senior's 104 career catches are a team record for tight ends.
Oregon has been outstanding defensively over the last two games, allowing 365 yards with just 181 through the air while totaling nine sacks and five turnovers.
"Our defense has been tremendous," Kelly said. "It's been a total team effort. It's just a new guy on each play and I think the tempo and the attitude they're playing with is great. They're playing as a total team defense. There's 11 moving parts and they're all on the same page."
The Ducks beat the Bruins 31-24 on Oct. 11, 2008, as Masoli ran for a career-high 170 yards and a touchdown while completing just 5 of 19 passes for 42 yards and a score.
Oregon has split the last four meetings with UCLA (3-1, 0-1), but lost 16-0 on Nov. 24, 2007, in the lone matchup at the Rose Bowl during that span. Each team has won six meetings there.
The Bruins are coming off their first loss, 24-16 at Stanford last Saturday, as they blew a chance at making their season debut in the Top 25.
"I love everything about this job ... I just don't like losing," coach Rick Neuheisel said. "The key is to get rid of that feeling as quickly as humanly possible. We're onto the next game. It's a great test for us. I think our guys are going to respond in the exact right way."
UCLA is hoping safety Rahim Moore can play after he suffered a concussion last week and left in the second quarter. The sophomore's five interceptions are tied with Iowa's Tyler Sash for the most in the nation.
"Hopefully he's going to be OK," Neuheisel said.
The Bruins are struggling in the passing game, ranking last in the conference with 706 yards while totaling three touchdowns and three interceptions.
They'll likely give Kevin Craft a third consecutive start after he completed 22 of 34 passes for 204 yards against the Cardinal. The senior went 27 for 43 for 288 yards with a touchdown and an interception in last year's meeting with Oregon.
Posted: 10/6/09 6:18PM ET