No. 6 Ducks await their bowl fate
Oregon is taking a break this week while the team awaits formal word on where it will be headed this postseason.
There is a general consensus that the No. 6 Ducks are headed as an at-large bid to the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3 in Arizona, but it won't be cemented until Sunday when the bowl bids are announced.
The bigger mystery surrounds who Oregon will face in the game. Many were pining for a matchup with No. 7 Kansas State, to spotlight Oregon freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota and Wildcats senior QB Collin Klein.
Kansas State hosts No. 23 Texas in its regular-season finale on Saturday. The Wildcats can wrap up the Big 12 title and earn the league's automatic BCS bowl berth with a win, or if No. 12 Oklahoma loses to TCU earlier in the day.
Like Oregon, Kansas State was derailed in its quest for a national championship bid by a lone loss, to Baylor. On the same day, the Ducks got knocked out of the race with a loss to Stanford.
Following Oregon's 48-24 victory over intrastate rival Oregon State in the 116th Civil War, the Ducks (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) went into postseason limbo, where they await their fate. Players got the week off from practice, except for strength and conditioning. Many of the coaches departed for recruiting trips.
''11-1's a pretty good record the last time I checked, no matter what happens,'' defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said following the Civil War win.
While the Ducks finished with just one conference loss, it was to Stanford, so the No. 8 Cardinal (10-2, 8-1) claimed the head-to-head matchup for a spot in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night against No. 17 UCLA (9-3, 6-3). The winner of the conference title heads to the Rose Bowl.
The Ducks also played in the Fiesta Bowl following their 11-win season in 2001, beating Colorado 38-16 on Joey Harrington's four touchdown passes. Oregon's lone loss that year also was to Stanford.
While they waited this week, many Oregon players collected honors.
On Sunday, the team held its own award reception. In a vote among teammates, Mariota and senior linebacker Michael Clay both were named the team's most outstanding players, while senior linebacker Dion Jordan was named most inspirational.
Mariota was also chosen as the Pac-12's freshman of the year on offense.
He set the conference record with 30 touchdown passes. He is the first Oregon freshman to throw for 300 yards in a game, doing it three times this season. He also matched the Oregon record with six touchdown passes against California.
And he's still got a game to go.
Mariota and Jordan also were selected to the Pac-12's all-league first team by the conference coaches, along with senior running back Kenjon Barner, sophomore center Hroniss Grasu and sophomore cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
On Wednesday, Barner was named among the finalists for the Walter Camp award for the nation's best player, along with Klein, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and USC receiver Marqise Lee.
Barner is averaging 135.5 yards rushing a game, fourth in the nation. He has rushed for 1,624 total yards and 21 touchdowns this season.
Rumors continued to swirl around the future of Oregon coach Chip Kelly and whether the 17-14 loss to Stanford in overtime was his last game at Autzen Stadium.
Kelly's name surfaces when there are NFL openings since he acknowledged talking to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers about their vacancy last season. At the time, he said he had ''unfinished business'' left at Oregon.
Kelly was asked before the Civil War whether he'd like to address this season's NFL talk.
The coach simply said: ''No.''