A different kind of rivalry – Behind enemy lines.

    The perception of Saturday’s game between Oregon and Portland State seemed almost unanimous this week in Eugene.

    Oregon coach Mike Bellotti fielded questions and, in all his political correctness, discussed the challenge the Vikings pose, the great connections he has with the Vikings’ staff and players, and the in-state rivalry between the two schools.

    But he admitted the scheduling of this game was “not his choice” after Utah State backed out, leaving a hole in Oregon’s schedule. This is clearly one he doesn’t want to play.

    The Oregon players preached not to overlook any opponent and to take the season one game at a time.

    Yet, talk nearly all week regarded Oregon’s now altered bowl game plans, leaving the Vikings as the stepping stone to the Ducks’ sixth win and bowl eligibility.

    Students still lined up for tickets on Monday morning. But 1,000 still remained on Tuesday – a slight contrast to the UCLA game two weeks ago when the entire allotment disappeared on the first day.

    Truth be told, this game seems to elicit a collective yawn from the Oregon football team and faithful, and for obvious reasons. But before we get into particulars for this game, there’s one underlying factor: The Oregon players look at Portland State as a remedy. In other words, the Vikings likely will be the unfortunate souls who pay for the frustrations of Oregon’s failures last week.

    I realize most of the Oregon and Portland State faithful are predicting an easy win for the Ducks (the spread on the game, in one source, is 29), and everyone understands that Oregon has the better athletes and facilities.

    That’s obvious.

    But this one could be uglier than expected because you should never underestimate the power of a wounded animal. Considering the Ducks had to stand on the sidelines of Martin Stadium in the waning moments with chants of “over-rated” echoing through the crowd and their season slowly spiraling down the drain now with two conference losses.

    Considering they had to watch their name slip nine spots in the polls from No. 16 to No. 25, while pundits erased their name from the conference race and many asked, “What’s gone awry?”

    Saturday, they’ll be out to prove that not all is lost.

    Undoubtedly all week, the Ducks prepared for next week’s showdown with the rival Huskies on homecoming. Saturday it’s likely the Ducks won’t give anything away. Instead it’ll be the most basic of Oregon’s plays against Portland State, meaning less trickery and more of Oregon’s powerful offensive line using its tremendous size and 234-pound running back Jonathan Stewart putting his ball-security issues behind him by simply running over defenders.

    Oregon truly has nothing to win in this game, except for another victory and bowl eligibility. Therefore, the Ducks are hoping for an injury-free first half, a substantial lead going into the break and a lot of reserves playing the rest of the way.

    For the sake of Portland State, I hope that is what happens.