EUGENE -- Mark Helfrich has witnessed the death of a visiting team's national championship dreams at Folsom Field once before.
On Sept. 29, 2007, No. 3 Oklahoma suffered a stunning 27-24 loss at Colorado. It was one of the only highlights of the Dan Hawkins era in Boulder.
Helfrich, CU's offensive coordinator the day redshirt freshman Cody Hawkins completed 22 of 36 passes for 219 yards against the Sooners, will return to Folsom Field this Saturday as the head coach of No. 2 Oregon.
"We had a couple of great wins there," Helfrich recalled after Monday's practice. "There was a game very much like ours, we beat Oklahoma, who were second or third in the country at that time, Sam Bradford and all those guys, and we beat them at home. West Virginia on a Thursday night, we beat them at home. It's a great place, very passionate student body, which is part of the challenge."
The Ducks (4-0, 1-0) are heavy favorites to beat the rebuilding Buffaloes (2-1, 0-1). The seniors in the struggling program are playing for their third head coach (Mike MacIntyre) in four seasons.
Two years ago, Oregon won 45-2 at Folsom Field with Bryan Bennett starting for an injured Darron Thomas at quarterback, and Kenjon Barner carrying the load at running back for an injured LaMichael James.
Even if De'Anthony Thomas misses this meeting, the Ducks should be in good shape, as long as they get out of Ralphie's way when the powerful live mascot runs around the field before kickoff.
"They were training a new Ralphie one year I remember at the spring game, and she broke loose, which was entertaining," said Helfrich, who was CU's offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2008 before taking the same position at Oregon. "It's always good watching the visiting team when she makes the U-turn and comes back down the sideline. Everybody becomes like a rodeo cowboy after he gets kicked off the bull, climbing up the fence. We'll do our best to avoid that."
Helfrich's fondest memory of Boulder? That's an easy one, his son Max was born there.
Oregon's Bralon Addison was named the Pac-12 special teams player of the week after returning punts of 75 and 67 yards for touchdowns during the 55-16 victory over California. The sophomore wide receiver now leads the nation in punt return average (36.5 yards per attempt).
Helfrich said the other 10 players on the punt return team made the scoring plays possible by executing their blocks. The coach showed the team film of Addison making a block on offense, which allowed another receiver to score a touchdown.
"It's definitely everybody, and that's the neat part about that," Helfrich said.
Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion is the conference's offensive player of the week after passing for 414 yards and six touchdowns during a 44-17 win over CU in Corvallis.
Per his policy, Helfrich did not discuss Thomas' health status for Saturday's game. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is optimistic the dynamic running back will recover quickly from his ankle injury.
"He's doing good," Mariota said. "Obviously, he's nursing it a little bit, but he'll be fine."
Washington kickoff time
The Pac-12 announced on Monday the Ducks' game at No. 15 Washington will kickoff at 1 p.m. and will be televised by Fox Sports 1.