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California Golden Bears at Oregon Ducks (-23.5, 64)
THE STORY: Since falling to now-No. 2 LSU in the season-opener and dropping to No. 14 in the rankings, Oregon has slowly climbed its way back into the Top 10 with three consecutive blowout victories. The ninth-ranked Ducks have scored at least 56 points in wins over Nevada, Missouri State and Arizona and now rank first in the nation in scoring offense at 52 points per game. Oregon ranked first in that category last year, too, but California held the Ducks to season lows in points, total yards and first downs in a 15-13 Oregon victory.
California coach Jeff Tedford was Oregon’s offensive coordinator for four seasons before taking over the Golden Bears’ program in 2002. Cal leads the all-time series 39-32-2, but Oregon has won 10 of the past 15 meetings.
LINE MOVES: Oregon opened as high as -24 and had been bet down slightly at some books. The total opened as low as 63 and was bet up to 64.5 before coming back down half a point.
WEATHER: There is a 16 percent chance of rain for Pleasant Hill Thursday. Game-time temperatures will dip into the high 40s.
ABOUT CALIFORNIA (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12, 2-2 ATS): As high-powered as Oregon is offensively, the Bears haven’t been bad themselves, ranking 15th in the country with 39.5 points per game. After starting the season 3-0, Cal missed a chance at its first 4-0 start since 2007 with a 31-23 loss at Washington last week. The Bears rank ninth nationally with only 78.3 rushing yards allowed per game, but they haven’t faced a rushing offense that currently is higher than 58th in the country, so they’re in for quite a challenge trying to stop LaMichael James and Oregon’s spread-option attack. Cal quarterback Zach Maynard — a transfer from Buffalo — has 10 passing touchdowns already after throwing for just 18 in his final season with the Bulls.
ABOUT OREGON (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12, 2-2 ATS): The Ducks have been flat-out dominate at Autzen Stadium since 2008, averaging 49.5 points per game in an 18-game home winning streak. Their last home loss was a 37-32 setback against Boise State on Sept. 20, 2008. James — the nation’s leading rusher in 2010 — claimed the top spot again this week after a record-setting 288-yard effort at Arizona last weekend. Quarterback Darron Thomas threw two touchdowns in the Ducks’ 56-31 win against the Wildcats, making it 17 consecutive games he’s thrown for at least one score. Oregon has won 13 straight conference games since a loss at Stanford in November 2009.
1. Oregon leads the nation with only one sack allowed through four games, while Cal’s defense is ninth nationally with 3.25 sacks per game.
2. Eight of the last 11 games in this series have been decided by 10 points or less.
3. This is the first of three weeknight games this season for Cal, which played only three total weeknight games in Tedford’s first nine years in Berkeley.
* Under is 5-0 in the last five meetings in Oregon.
* Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Home team is 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Golden Bears are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings