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College Picks
Oregon looks to break No. 1 losing streak
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Never has being No. 1 been more difficult than it was November 1960. Three straight weeks, the top-ranked team in the AP poll lost.
It started with No. 1 Iowa losing 27-10 to Minnesota on Nov. 5. The Gophers then took over the top spot in the polls, only to lose 23-14 to Purdue on Nov. 12.
That opened the door for Missouri to rise to No. 1 for the first time in the history of the program. The Tigers promptly went out and lost 23-7 to conference rival Kansas on Nov. 19.
Sounds a bit familiar.
After No. 1 was knocked off in consecutive weeks, Oregon tries to stop the skid at home Thursday night against Pac-10 foe UCLA. It’s the Ducks’ first game ever as the top-ranked team in the country.
Oregon (6-0) is a 24-point favorite against UCLA (3-3). The Bruins have been hard to figure out, losing at Kansas State and winning at Texas. They’ve also been pounded by a total of 70-7 by Stanford and California.
So who knows what the Ducks will get from the Bruins and their pistol offense?
The Ducks, meanwhile, have the nation’s most potent offense and have proved to be fearless in the face of a deficit.
“I think they’ve handled everything that’s been thrown at them,” coach Chip Kelly said. “We were down at Tennessee. We were down at Arizon State by 10. We were down 21-3 to Stanford.”
Oregon hopes to have quarterback Darron Thomas ready to go after he injured his shoulder against Washington State on Oct. 9. The Ducks had last week off and found themselves No. 1 in the country after previously top-ranked Ohio State was upset at Wisconsin.
The week before, preseason No. 1 Alabama lost its first game of the season at South Carolina.
Oregon is one of 10 unbeaten teams left in major college football. Nine play this week — Boise State is off — and four play each other.
In the Big 12, No. 3 Oklahoma is at No. 18 Missouri. The Southeastern Conference’s last two unbeaten teams square off when No. 5 Auburn hosts No. 6 LSU.
A footnote to that Kansas-Missouri game in 1960. The Jayhawks were later ruled to have used an ineligible player and were ordered to give up their victory. The loss still cost the Tigers what would have been their only AP national title.

The picks:
UCLA (plus 24) at No. 1 Oregon — Ducks restore order at No. 1 ... OREGON 45-17.

No. 3 Oklahoma (minus 3) at No. 18 Missouri — Show-me game for upstart Tigers ... OKLAHOMA 31-21.
Air Force (plus 18½) at No. 4 TCU — Horned Frogs have given up three points total in the last three games ... TCU 35-14.
No. 6 LSU (plus 5) at No. 5 Auburn — Cam Newton’s second straight week in Heisman spotlight ... AUBURN 27-23.
No. 7 Alabama (plus 16½) at Tennessee — Vols have only surpassed 17 points vs. UAB and Tennessee-Martin ... ALABAMA 28-10.
No. 8 Michigan State (minus 5) at Northwestern — Can Spartans handle prosperity? ... NORTHWESTERN 24-20.
Colorado State (plus 30) at No. 9 Utah — Utes have won four straight against Rams, averaging 34 points ... UTAH 45-10.
No. 10 Wisconsin (plus 5) at No. 13 Iowa — Badgers won’t be doing the Bucky at Kinnick Stadium ... IOWA 27-20.
Purdue (plus 24) at No. 11 Ohio State — Buckeyes lost to Boilermakers last season ... OHIO STATE 38-17.
Washington State (plus 34½) at No. 12 Stanford — Cardinal have won last two meetings by combined 97-13 ... 50-21.
No. 14 Nebraska (minus 5½) at No. 17 Oklahoma State — So how good are these Cornhuskers? And these Cowboys? ... NEBRASKA 34-21.
Washington (plus 6½) at No. 15 Arizona — With QB Nick Foles out, Wildcats need big effort from defense ... ARIZONA 21-17.
No. 19 South Carolina (minus 12½) at Vanderbilt — Vandy makes everything better — for the opposition ... SOUTH CAROLINA 42-17.
Syracuse (plus 14) at No. 20 West Virginia — Mountaineers have won eight straight meetings ... WEST VIRGINIA 31-13.
Mississippi (off) at No. 21 Arkansas — Ryan Mallett says his ready to go after concussion last week ... ARKANSAS 47-24.
Iowa State (plus 20½) at No. 22 Texas — Cyclones heading for third straight serious beating ... TEXAS 42-10.
Duke (plus 26½) at No. 23 Virginia Tech — Hokies back in Top 25, probably for rest of the season ... VIRGINIA TECH 45-17.
UAB (plus 19½) at No. 24 Mississippi State — Bulldogs’ Dan Mullen, coach of the year? ... MISSISSIPPI STATE 31-7.
North Carolina (plus 6½) at No. 25 Miami — The Oh, What Could Have Been? Bowl ... MIAMI 27-24.

Last week — 12-9 (straight); 9-11 (vs. points).
Season — 108-28 (straight); 64-58-3 (vs. points).
Best bets: 2-1. Upset specials: 2-1.