The No. 11 Ducks are preparing to play No. 6 California, which is one of many accomplished programs that can claim ties to Eugene.
Memo to Georgia: The road, this week, does not lead back to you. It leads to Oregon. Not generally considered the cradle of anything except rain, Oregon is suddenly a crossed-legged guru from which all college football eminence flows. No. 6 California plays at No. 11 Oregon in Eugene in a marquee game being televised by ABC and announced by former Oregon quarterback Dan Fouts. Oregon has been coached since 1995 by Mike Bellotti, but when he looks across the field Saturday, it's going to be like looking in a pond reflection. Cal is almost an Oregon subsidiary.
Golden Bears Coach Jeff Tedford was Oregon's offensive coordinator from 1998 to 2001, and since arriving in Berkeley five years ago, Tedford has raided Eugene like your teenager raids the snack cupboard. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory, receivers coach Dan Ferrigno and running backs coach Ron Gould once drew plays in Eugene. Cal's director of football operations, strength and conditioning coach and equipment man all formerly worked in Oregon. So did the team's video coordinator, head equipment manager, assistant equipment manager and a recruiting assistant. You can't cross a train track these days without tripping over Oregon ties.
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* Nobody is really expecting defense to play a prominent role when Oregon (No. 1 in Pac-10 scoring offense at 48.5 points per game) and Cal (No. 3 at 41.5) play. But Cal Coach Tedford, in order to win, clumsily offered, "somebody's got to slow each other down."