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Oregon Ducks Face a Familiar Foe in Mike Riley

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Fresno State v Nebraska
LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 03: Head coach Mike Riley of the Nebraska Cornhuskers walks onto the field before the game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Memorial Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Fresno State 43-10.
Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Nebraska head football coach Mike Riley has lost his last seven matchups versus the Oregon Ducks. You have to go all the way back to 2007 when the ducks, led by a young Jonathan Stewart (now entering his 9th NFL season), were beat by Riley. The Beavers allowed an average of 578 yards and 45.6 points per game in those seven losses to Oregon. But the stage will be quite different Saturday when the ducks have to travel across the country to face a Riley-led Nebraska team that has looked quite solid so far this season.

With two dominant performances over Fresno State and Wyoming, Riley should have great optimism that his losing streak could come to an end this Saturday. Even Las Vegas believes in Riley. Nebraska is currently rated as a two-and-a-half-point favorite over Oregon.

Riley said he is excited to face Oregon again. Though it won’t be in the historic civil war, this weekend’s game should augment the tradition that Oregon and Mike Riley have formed over the years.

“It is exciting,” Riley said. “We didn’t fare all that well through the many years with Oregon, but it was a great rivalry. We saw changes in both programs as we went forward.”

An interesting development to watch will be how Riley’s longtime defensive coordinator Mark Banker will line up his defense. Banker has struggled to figure out the ducks during his time as a coach at Oregon State. Banker says he’s excited to see how his defense stacks up against an Oregon offense that ranks 8th in the country in yards per game with 577 per contest.

“They’re gonna come in here high flying, and we’re gonna see what we’re made out of,” said Banker.

Both teams are well coached and played fundamentally sound football. One facet of the game both teams have done well in this season is turnover margin. Oregon and Nebraska both rank in the top 8 nationally in turnover margin. In a game that many experts predict to be close, a key turnover down the stretch could be the difference between a win and a loss.

An eighth straight win against Riley would mean more than just bragging rights for the ducks. A win would push the ducks forward in the early rankings and place them on the doorstep of the playoff discussion. The game will be televised live at 3:30 ET on ABC.