It'll be quite an atmosphere Thursday night, what with the Oregon Ducks playing the Cal Bears, going for consecutive win No. 19 at Autzen Stadium and sporting throwback uniforms again.

And, of course, ESPN's cameras will be rolling, and the Ducks and fans love their national exposure.

Oregon wore similar uniforms in 2009 and spanked the Bears 42-3. I'm not sure this game will be as lopsided, but who in their right mind sees the Bears winning?

I don't know quite what to make of California. Are the Bears sliding into mediocrity under coach Jeff Tedford? Which program shows up - the one that beat Oregon in 2007 and 2008 and played the Ducks tougher than anybody outside of Auburn last season? Or the team that could do nothing right in 2009?

It'll be interesting to see how well QB Zach Maynard plays against the Ducks. Cal needed to get better at quarterback, and indications are the more athletic Maynard does the job, and he has a couple good receivers in Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones.

Some things are holding the Ducks back from being considered a top-tier team, most prominently the defense. We'll see Thursday if Oregon is making strides in that area.

With a week and a half break, the Ducks will be rested and ready to take on the Bears. Expect more of the same: Lots of run game, lots of speed, lots of uptempo offense. The UO defense will make some stops. The Ducks will wear down the Bears in the second half.

And, the most important advantage will be the Autzen Stadium crowd, which should show up in force with students back in school and helping to make an expected 77th consecutive sellout.

THE PICK: Oregon 44, Cal 24

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