September 09, 2014

Marcus Mariota solidified his place among Heisman Trophy favorites with another outstanding performance while helping lead Oregon to a marquee victory last weekend.

With that test behind the second-ranked Ducks, Mariota isn't concerned about them remaining just as motivated when Wyoming visits Eugene on Saturday.

The redshirt junior quarterback threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns as Oregon (2-0) erased a nine-point, third-quarter deficit by scoring the final 28 in a 46-27 home win over then-No. 7 Michigan State.

"To be down at half and battle back to win that game is a huge confidence builder for this team," Mariota said. "You learn a lot about your team."

Mariota realizes the hype surrounding that contest won't be nearly the same this week against the Cowboys, but that doesn't mean Oregon will be any less prepared.

"Our mentality is still the same," Mariota said. "I thought (Monday's) practice was one of the better ones we've had this year, and that's a token to our team. Our attitude won't change. We'll continue to get better and we're looking forward to another one on Saturday."

Freshman receiver Devon Allen echoed that statement.

"We just have to come into practice realizing that we want to win all our games to realize our goal to make it to the playoff and play for a national championship," Allen said. "We're just going to prepare the same way we prepared last week and hopefully we have the same outcome."

That shouldn't be much trouble if Allen has another strong effort. After catching one pass for five yards in Oregon's 62-13 win over South Dakota on Aug. 30, Allen had three receptions for 110 yards with TDs of 70 and 24 yards.

"I came in just wanting to play and play a lot. I'm getting that chance right now and I'm trying to make the best of it," said Allen, the NCAA's reigning 110-meter hurdles champion. "I just need to refine my route running and be able to use my speed on every play."

He's one of a plethora of weapons Mariota has in the passing game. Seven different players caught a pass last week, with Keanon Lowe and Byron Marshall matching Allen with a team-high three catches. Freshman running back Royce Freeman, who rushed for 89 yards and two TDs, also caught two passes out of the backfield.

"They're all very dynamic, explosive, and we have to find ways to continue to get them the ball," Mariota said.

After totaling 673 yards in the opener and 491 against a Michigan State defense widely considered one of the best in the country, the Ducks offense will look to break through a Wyoming unit that has allowed just two touchdowns and 25 points through two games.

The Cowboys (2-0) held Montana to 42 rushing yards in a 17-12 victory Aug. 30 before forcing a pair of turnovers in last Saturday's 17-13 win over Air Force, helping overcome an inconsistent offense.

Senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard had only 92 yards and an interception in the opener, but Shaun Wick rushed for 134 and a touchdown. Wick then gained 37 yards on 14 carries last week while Kirkegaard threw for 282 yards and two scores, including the winning 3-yard TD pass to J.D. Krill with 58 seconds left.

Dominic Rufran made six catches for 119 yards. He's caught a pass in 39 straight games, the second-longest active streak in the nation.

"It was a hard-fought game, lots of ebbs and flows during the course of the game and a lot of momentum to have our players keep believing in our system," first-year coach Craig Bohl said. "We have room for improvement, no question, but this was a hard-fought win and we are going to enjoy it."

Bohl's defense will be tested against Oregon's up-tempo unit engineered by offensive coordinator Scott Frost, who was the quarterback for Nebraska's 1997 national championship team that featured Bohl as its linebackers coach.

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