Coming off a 26-20, double-overtime upset of then-No. 9 Baylor at home last weekend, No. 12 BYU will hit the road for another challenge against a ranked major-conference foe.
The Cougars (2-0) will continue their gauntlet of an independent schedule one year before moving to the Big 12 with a trip to Eugene, Ore., to face No. 25 Oregon on Saturday.
BYU went 5-0 against Pac-12 schools last season, but coach Kalani Sitake isn’t looking on that as any indication of success at Oregon. The Cougars’ win over Baylor, which ended after midnight in Provo, Utah, was cause for much celebration, but the task this week was come down from the emotional high and focus on the Ducks.
“I am looking forward to the challenge,” Sitake said Monday. “It will be a good defining moment for our guys on the team. We talk about our depth and having a lot of experience and veterans. This will put us to the test.
“I have been in that environment. I have been in that stadium. It is a tough place to play, and not a lot of teams come out of there successful.”
BYU is 14-16 all-time when it is ranked and playing a ranked opponent. The Cougars have won three of their past four matchups against Top 25 teams and are 8-8 against Pac-12 foes under Sitake.
Junior quarterback Jaren Hall threw for 261 yards and a touchdown in the victory against Baylor, and he also caught a scoring pass from Chase Roberts. Lopini Katoa ran for a 3-yard TD in the second OT, and the Cougars’ defense subsequently held on fourth-and-goal at the 6-yard line when an incomplete pass sealed the win.
Oregon (1-1) leaped back into the Top 25 after a 70-14 win over FCS Eastern Washington last weekend. The Ducks were hammered 49-3 in Week 1 at defending national champion Georgia, so the BYU game could be a true indicator of where Oregon is headed as a program under first-year coach Dan Lanning.
The youthful Ducks are tied for the fourth-most underclassmen of any FBS team with 96. Oregon has 53 freshmen and 43 sophomores, 76.2 percent of its 126 players overall. Only Navy (117), Army (108) and Nebraska (110) have more underclassmen, while Wyoming joins the Ducks with 96.
Still, it was a senior who led the way in the blowout of Eastern Washington, with Bo Nix throwing for five touchdowns and 277 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Troy Franklin had 10 receptions for 84 yards and a score, and sophomore running back Mar’Keise Irving produced 74 yards and a TD on eight carries.
Oregon is 28-23 against ranked teams since 2010 and 35-33-2 all-time against Top-25 opponents at Autzen Stadium.
The Ducks have won each of their past 20 home games as they close in on the program’s all-time best run, a 23-game stretch from 1997-2001. The only schools with longer active home win streaks are Clemson (35) and Cincinnati (28).
Oregon has won 29 consecutive non-conference home games, the second-longest active stretch behind Alabama’s 40 in a row.
“We’re not playing our best football yet by any means,” Lanning said. “I think the ceiling’s really high, and there’s a lot we can still improve on. … I don’t know if we know exactly where we’re at yet.”
Oregon is looking to repeat history against the Cougars in Eugene. In 1990, the unranked Ducks upset then-No. 4 BYU 32-16, forcing that season’s Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Ty Detmer, to throw five interceptions and sacking him five times.
The all-time series is at three wins apiece.
–Field Level Media
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