No. 3 Oregon gets much-needed rest in bye week

Third-ranked Oregon is using a week off to get healthy and rest up for the final stretch of the regular season and beyond.

The Ducks (9-1, 6-1) have already clinched the Pac-12 North, so they're headed to the conference championship on Dec. 5 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. They'll face Arizona State if the Sun Devils (8-1, 5-1) can win their final three games.

Oregon moved up to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, meaning if the Ducks win out and capture the league championship, they'll also have a spot in one of the playoff games that determine who contends for the national championship.

The Ducks will host Colorado next weekend before visiting Corvallis for the annual Civil War against Oregon State. Both the Buffaloes and the Beavers are struggling this season.

Oregon will get a chance to heal up from a rough outing against No. 25 Utah in Salt Lake City. Cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, center Hroniss Grasu and tight end Pharaoh Brown were injured in the 51-27 victory over the Utes.

Brown's right knee injury in the fourth quarter was the most severe, ending his season. He had surgery in Utah this week before returning home to Ohio for his recovery.

Brown, a junior, had 25 catches for 420 yards and six touchdowns this season, including a TD catch in the game against the Utes. He also played a big role blocking for the Ducks on running plays.

Because of his injury, Oregon will give more work to sophomores Evan Baylis and Johnny Mundt as well as junior Koa Ka'ai.

''Whoever is next will be ready to roll. Obviously, over the next two weeks we'll kind of evaluate what the best deal is going forward, whether it's one or two tight ends, one or two receivers here and there,'' coach Mark Helfrich said. ''But we have a ton of confidence in those guys.''

There is uncertainty about the status of center Hroniss Grasu because of an apparent left leg injury. The Ducks don't discuss injuries as a policy.

Redshirt freshman Doug Brenner assumed Grasu's duties against Utah, and will likely start if the senior can't go against the Buffaloes or Beavers.

Oregon also lost Ekpre-Olomu with a big toe injury early in the Utah game, but later he told The Oregonian that he just ''tweaked'' it and would be ready for Colorado.

In addition to assessing the injury situation, Helfrich wants to make sure his player hit the books during the bye. There are only three weeks left in the fall term.

''It's going to be a big academic week obviously, a big health week, a big push,'' he said. ''At this point in the season, getting healthy and smart is just as important. Our guys are in great shape to work and do the things we do in practice. Getting smart and getting healthy are more important.''

Because of the victory at Utah, Oregon moved up two spots to No. 3 in the AP Top 25, while the Utes dropped from No. 20 to No. 25. The Utes are currently No. 23 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

The Ducks have three wins against teams currently in the top 25 (Michigan State, UCLA, Utah), while Florida State has two (Notre Dame and Clemson).

''It was a very close call, but the committee placed significant value on Oregon's quality of wins against three top 25 teams, two of which were on the road,'' said playoff committee chairman Jeff Long.

The 12-person committee will choose the four teams on Dec. 7 for the inaugural playoff.

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