Ducks head into game week with WSU

A bye week came at a good time for the Oregon Ducks. Without having to prepare a game plan or play a single snap in a game, the Ducks (4-1, 1-1) moved from No. 14 in the national rankings last week to No. 8 this week.

The Ducks may not be as concerned about the rankings as many of the fans are though. For Oregon, the prize is still the Pac-10 championship and with USC's 24-23 loss to Stanford this weekend, it just proves that in the Pac-10 no game can be taken lightly.

Oregon gets back into the swing of things this week as it prepares for the Washington State Cougars next Saturday at Autzen Stadium. WSU had a tough contest with the Arizona State Sun Devils at Pullman and dropped to 2-4 for the season with a 23-20 loss. The Cougars are also 0-3 in Pac-10 play but would love to knock the Ducks out of the Pac-10 race with a loss. WSU's Alex Brink was 27-for-50, 369 yards, two touchdowns and an interception meanwhile ASU's Rudy Carpenter threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns on a 19-for-27 effort. Carpenter was picked off twice.

During the bye last week, Oregon was able to take a break from the intense schedule a football season creates for players and coaches. Conditioning was the emphasis rather than contact and, while the loss to California was disappointing heading into the bye week, the team knows that it could have beaten Cal and knows that there is plenty more of the season left.

"We've got some resolve and grit about the season," said offensive lineman Josh Tschirgi of his team. "We don't think one loss is going to determine a Pac-10 champion."

A win over WSU will help erase one of the big disappointments from last season, when the Ducks traveled to Pullman and dropped a 34-23 decision. While the Ducks out-passed the Cougars 367 yards to 179 yards, Oregon was picked off twice while WSU gave the ball up once to an interception. Oregon was anemic in the running game, only racking up 104 yards of net rushing to the WSU's 193 yards.

This season the Ducks are averaging 276.6 yards per game and feature the Pac-10's leading rusher, Jonathan Stewart, who is averaging 124.6 yards per game. WSU's leading rusher this year is Dwight Tardy, who averages 71.3 yards a contest. Brink is the conference's leading passer in terms of yardage at 304.7 yards, with 17 touchdowns and has been intercepted five times. Oregon's Dennis Dixon is the conference's most efficient passer with an efficiency rating of 168.9, throwing for 1,245 yards (249.0 ypg) with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. Brandon Gibson is the leading Pac-10 and WSU receiver with 39 catches averaging 94.5 yards per game. Jaison Williams is the Ducks' top receiver with 22 catches averaging 67.4 yards per game.

Kickoff for Saturday's contest is at 12:30 p.m.

Tschirgi spoke to eDuck Sports last week about the bye week: Tschirgi on the Ducks outlook


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