|Written by Chris Coleman.
When was the last time a one-loss top 12 team in the country was a 23-point underdog? The points UCLA are getting against Oregon probably say more about the Ducks than they do the Bruins.
Oregon is an amazing offensive juggernaut, even for Oregon. QB Marcus Mariota is probably the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at this point of the season. He's thrown 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Is that any good?
But Mariota is not the only QB taking the field Saturday who may eventually take the field on Sundays. The Bruins Brett Hundley has also been impressive this season, but he is definitely not getting the kind of protection Mariota is and doesn't quite have the weapons as his Ducks opponent. Hundley has spent much more time on his back than Mariota has. His depleted O-line led to four sacks and fewer than 200 yards passing last week against Stanford. Making matters worse was the fact that Bruins running back Jordon James missed his second straight game with an ankle, leaving the Bruins one-dimensional.
"Hundley's the type of guy that can work with that, being an athletic guy, being a versatile guy, who can run, who can throw, who can make plays, (the) quick game down the field, all the things that they do," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.
Mariota has led his team to a cakewalk season thus far and now he gets running back De'Anthony Thomas back from a three-game hiatus. Even with Thomas out, the Ducks have consistently crammed the ball down teams' throats, piling up almost 60 points and 650 yards a game, with Byron Marshall picking up where Thomas left off.
With the BCS standings out for the first time, the Ducks may have extra incentive to put on a show against a highly ranked opponent. They trail Florida State and Alabama in the rankings. And while the Ducks are saying all the right things, you know they want to make a statement.
"That's their opinions, we have no control over that," Mariota said. "We'll just continue to take it one game at a time."
Mariota's march will be slowed a little by UCLA's standout linebacker Anthony Barr, who leads the team in tackles for losses. He has been the brightest spot on a Bruins team that has had little success stopping the run, allowing 150 yards per game on the ground.
With Oregon healthy in the backfield for the first time in a month, expect the Ducks to be firing on all cylinders. The Bruins had a great start to the year, but they just hit a wall in their schedule, and are about to be exposed.
The line: Oregon -23
The pick: Oregon
Last updated on October 25, 2013.