No. 2 Oregon will host California to begin Pac-12 play on Saturday, coming off a 59-14 blowout of Tennessee in Week 3.
In the victory over the Volunteers, the Ducks scored 59 unanswered points after falling behind in the first quarter, 7-0. They ended the game with 687 total yards. Sophomore quarterback and Heisman contender Marcus Mariota passed for 456 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for another score.
It's not going to be any easier for Cal on Saturday after getting blasted by Ohio State in Week 3, 52-34. The Golden Bears posted 503 total yards against the Buckeyes, but also allowed 608 total yards. Buckeyes backup Kenny Guiton threw for 276 yards and four touchdowns, while senior running back Jordan Hall scampered for 168 yards and three touchdowns.
Let's take a look at the Pac-12 matchup on Saturday in Eugene.
*Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com
When: Saturday, Sept. 28 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Betting Line (via Covers.com): Oregon -36
California Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: G Matt Cochran (Ankle), LB Nick Forbes (Back)
Questionable: S Michael Lowe (Undisclosed), DT Mustafa Jalil (Knee), LB Michael Barton (Knee), LB Brennan Scarlett (Hand)
Oregon Injuries (via USA Today)
Questionable: TE Pharaoh Brown (Leg)
Top Storyline: The Play of Heisman Contender Marcus Mariota
Marcus Mariota is a top Heisman contender for many, if not the top Heisman contender. He ranks sixth in the nation in total offense per game (383.7 yards per contest), he's tossed seven touchdowns to zero interceptions and he's rushed for 262 yards and four touchdowns on 15 carries.
Oregon hasn't faced any top competition yet, with respect to FCS opponent Nicholls State, Virginia and Tennessee. But Mariota's explosive play cannot be ignored regardless, especially after leading the Ducks to a Fiesta Bowl victory as a freshman last season.
Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports noted:
MarcusMariota has 7 runs of 20 yds or more. More impressive: he's credited w only 15 carries & 1 was a sack & another a botched snap. #Ducks— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) September 25, 2013
This may be Mariota's last year season at Oregon. He's already creating buzz throughout the NFL as a potential top pick in the 2014 draft. You can bet he wants to go out with a bang.
Prediction: Oregon 70, California 24
Who will win on Saturday?
There's a reason why Oregon is favored by 36 points on Saturday: Oregon ranks second in the nation in points per game, while Cal ranks 121st in points allowed per contest.
Oregon scored 59 points in consecutive outings against Virginia and Tennessee. Now the Ducks face one of the worst defenses in the country. It's not out of the question that they explode for 70 points or more in Eugene.
After allowing 52 points to Ohio State at home in Week 3, don't be surprised if Cal is embarrassed in Week 5 at Autzen Stadium. It would frankly be a shock if this game was competitive in the slightest.