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Fearless prediction: UCLA at Oregon

Thursday

UCLA at No. 2 Oregon (-24), 9 p.m./ESPN: The Ducks are No. 1 in the human polls, but No. 2 in the BCS standings, which are the rankings that really count. Either way, Oregon has the lofty rankings this week and high expectations the rest of the way. So, this is the question: does Oregon crumble under all of this pressure on national television against an unranked and highly unpredictable team? No way. Oregon’s offense is simply too potent to lose this game. Take these two case studies: the Ducks were tied 13-13 at halftime at Tennessee. Oregon ended up winning that game 48-13. Oregon trailed Stanford 21-3 and ended up winning that game 52-31. It seems like Oregon can flip a switch and be up by 28 points. The one concern is that Oregon has given up 85 points in three Pac-10 games this season. But with quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James, I still like Oregon’s chances to outscore most – if not all – teams. That includes UCLA. I can’t really figure out the Bruins. UCLA loses at Kansas State (31-22) and then at home against Stanford (35-0). Then the Bruins beat then-No. 23 Houston and go to Texas and hand the Longhorns a 34-12 beating. Then UCLA struggles to beat Washington State and gets blown out at California (35-7). UCLA can’t throw the ball (95 yards a game), but it sure can run it (223 yards a game). In short, UCLA doesn’t have the offense to stay with Oregon. The Ducks may start out slow, but I expect that they shift into high gear by the second quarter. Oregon 41, UCLA 13

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