CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The Ducks don’t fly this far from home very often.
On Nov. 14, 1970, Jerry Frei’s Oregon team tied Army 22-22 in West Point, N.Y. On Sept. 10, 1977, UO suffered a 27-16 loss to Georgia in Athens, Ga., to begin the Rich Brook era.
The 1985 season ended with the Ducks’ longest trip, an international junket to Japan, where they lost 20-6 to familiar Pac-10 foe USC in Tokyo.
This time No. 2 UO is planning on a more celebratory return flight after facing Virginia today here at Scott Stadium (12:30 p.m., ABC).
The Ducks (1-0) have won 15 consecutive true road games, easily the nation’s longest streak (Alabama and Northern Illinois are tied for second at nine), which began with a 44-41 double-overtime victory at Arizona on Nov. 21, 2009.
UO has never faced an ACC opponent in the regular season. Wake Forest defeated the Ducks in two postseason meetings (1992 Independence Bowl, 2002 Seattle Bowl).
“I think it’s fun for players to go to a different part of the country and see a stadium they’ve never seen. Some of that will get our energy level up,” offensive coordinator Scott Frost said. “It’s kind of offset by having to travel five hours one way and six hours the other way. We’re a mature enough team to handle that type of travel situation.”
Mark Helfrich made sure the practice routine remained unchanged during the week, other than turning up the heat in the Moshofsky Center to simulate the warmer conditions and higher humidity on the East Coast. The first-year head coach also did his best to convince the Ducks jet lag is something only experienced when traveling across the country from east to west, like Tennessee will do next weekend.
After the plane touched down at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Friday night, coaches and players were scheduled to head straight into meetings at the visiting team’s hotel.
“We just prepare and do things differently than every other college program,” tight end Colt Lyerla said of the no-nonsense regimen. “That’s why we’re so successful.”
The Cavaliers (1-0), coming off a bitterly disappointing and staff-altering 4-8 season, took a positive step in the right direction with a 19-16 victory over BYU a week ago. Virginia’s defense was spectacular while the offense managed only 223 total yards and turned the ball over twice.
Head coach Mike London hired new coordinators, Jon Tenuta (defensive) and Steve Fairchild (offensive), after the 2012 campaign. The Cavaliers’ 4-3 defense likes to blitz and the pro-style offense features sophomore quarterback David Watford (56.3 percent completions, one touchdown, one interception vs. BYU) and junior running back Kevin Parks (65 yards, game-winning touchdown).
UO is the highest ranked nonconference opponent Virginia has hosted since No. 2 Notre Dame beat the Cavaliers 36-13 in the 1989 Kickoff Classic. No. 3 USC visited Scott Stadium in 2008 and won 52-7.
“They look like the Green Bay Packers out there,” London said of the Ducks at his weekly press conference. “The guy that goes to get the tee after the kickoff is really fast, and their whole team is fast.”
The Marcus Mariota-led offense set a school record with 772 yards, including 500 rushing, during UO’s 66-3 victory over Nicholls in the opener at Autzen Stadium.
True freshman running back Thomas Tyner is healthy and ready to join a long list of skill players highlighted by Mariota (458 total yards, three touchdowns last week), De’Anthony Thomas (128 yards rushing, two touchdowns) and Josh Huff (118 yards receiving).
“I think they can be contained, just like Kevin Durant,” Virginia middle linebacker Henry Coley said. “You know Kevin Durant is gonna get 30 points every night regardless, but are you gonna let him get 45 is the question.”
UO hasn’t walked off an opponent’s home field a loser since Nov. 7, 2009, at Stanford (51-42). Helfrich said there are actually less distractions for the players on these “business” trips.
“When you’re at home everybody’s screaming at you trying to get your attention. When you’re the away team you’re the underdog in some ways,” sophomore running back Byron Marshall said. “It’s always good playing with a little bit of that pressure on our shoulders. I feel like we play well on the road.”
TODAY: (2) Oregon (1-0) at Virginia (1-0), 12:30 p.m.
RADIO: KGAL (1580 AM)