Run and Shoot: Oregon looks to avoid the 'No. 2' curse

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Oregon looks to avoid the 'No. 2' curse

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Four teams have already been defeated as the No. 2 team in the nation. Cal, USC, South Florida and Boston College all suffered losses that will likely keep them out of the BCS picture.

Now, Arizona (4-6 overall, 3-4 Pacific-10 Conference) hopes to extend the favor against Oregon (8-1, 5-1) on national television.

All week, the Ducks talked about how they don't believe in the curse. Oregon coach Mike Bellotti pointed out multiple times in interviews this week, those teams suffered their first loss of the season when ranked as the No. 2 team.

"We've already got that out of the way," Bellotti joked, referring to the team's loss to then-No. 6 California.

Besides, with a BCS National Championship possibly riding on the the Ducks' performance in this game, there shouldn't be any sort of lack of motivation that would enable a possible upset. Oregon is on national television yet again for the season and the Ducks have played some of their best games under the spotlight.

And after what happened last year, the Wildcats forced six turnovers in a 37-10 rout in Autzen Stadium, the Ducks have plenty of motivating factors to reverse their fortune from their last game against Arizona.

Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon, considered by many to be the favorite for the Heisman Trohpy, hopes to have a big game in front of a national audience to cement his standing as the leading candidate to win the award, and gain distance from Florida's Heisman-hopeful Tim Tebow.

Over the past two weeks, Dixon has been peppered with questions about the status of his knee after injuring it two week ago against Arizona State. He says he's fine and he's run well at practice, so he should be fine in tonight's game as long as another helmet doesn't land on the knee again.

Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama, meanwhile, has been one of the hottest quarterback in college football the past two weeks, throwing for over 800 yards and eight touchdowns, with one pick, in the Wildcats' wins against Washington and UCLA. His hot streak doesn't bode well for Oregon's nationally ranked 104th pass defense.

While the Ducks' defense tends to give up significant yardage, opponents average over 400 yards per game against Oregon, the D remains one of the best red-zone units, allowing team to score 67 percent of the time, and has continually forced takeaways when opponents threaten to score.

Is an upset possible? Yes, but only if Arizona has the type of success it did last year (six turnovers should always mean an automatic win) and keeps pace with Oregon's offense. There's no doubt the Wildcats' will put points on the board, it's a matter of whether or not it can slow down Oregon's dynamic playmakers.

The offense will be boosted by the return of sophomore wide receiver Derrick Jones, one of the Ducks' fastest players, who was supsended for violating team rules. Jones hasn't played since Oregon's Oct. 13 win against Washington State. His presence should benefit the rest of the receiving corps, who have played incosistently as of late.

Oregon's uniform combination consists of a green helmet, white jersey and black pants. The Ducks haven't worn this combo ever. Personally, I was hoping for a white helmet, white jersey and black pants.

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