The longest winning streak in the nation appeared to be in jeopardy last week, but Utah escaped with its 16th straight victory.
Whether or not the Utes can extend the run again depends not only on their ability to make some much-needed improvements in their own play, but also on what kind of performance enigmatic Oregon can put together.
The 18th-ranked Utes look to keep their streak alive Saturday when they visit the Ducks, hoping to get back into the Top 25 by continuing their rebound from an inauspicious start.
Utah (2-0) finished at No. 2 in last season's AP poll after a 13-0 season extended its winning streak to 14. Though that run is still intact two games into 2009, it's looking increasingly difficult to maintain after a 24-14 victory over San Jose State last Saturday.
Terrance Cain passed for 248 yards and connected with Jereme Brooks for a go-ahead 51-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and the Utes finally sealed the win when third-string tailback Sausan Shakerin ran deep into San Jose State territory with less than 2 minutes to play on a frustrating night for coach Kyle Whittingham.
"We've got our fair share of deficiencies to work on in practice," Whittingham said. "You name it, we've got to work on it for next week. ... We're miles away from having all the answers."
The Utes, hoping to make their third BCS bowl in six years, have matched the school's winning streak from 1928-30. They trail only the 18 straight wins surrounding Utah's undefeated run to a Fiesta Bowl victory with coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Alex Smith from 2003-05.
Whittingham, though, is less concerned with making team history than he is with handling a dangerous Oregon team.
"We don't pay a lot of attention to (streaks)," the fifth-year coach said. "Each year is a new year, and we've got to get a lot better between now and Saturday if we want to even have a chance."
The Ducks (1-1) came into the season at No. 16 but fell out of the rankings after a 19-8 loss at then-No. 14 Boise State in which they were held to their lowest yardage total in nearly 15 years.
To make matters worse, running back LeGarrette Blount punched Boise State defense end Byron Hout in the aftermath of the game on national television. First-year Oregon coach Chip Kelly acted swiftly, suspending Blount for the season the next morning.
After that dismal opener, Oregon bounced back to beat Purdue 38-36 last Saturday, totaling 356 yards and stopping the Boilermakers' two-point conversion with 1:01 left.
"The taste never really goes away, but this absolutely helps. It feels great," said running back Kenjon Barner, who scored the Ducks' last touchdown on a 21-yard run with 6:42 remaining.
Kelly was also encouraged by the performance.
"We have moved on from last week. I am very impressed with the effort and hard work all of these players have put forth," he said. "The offense was better this week. We ran the ball, and got a couple of first downs. It's all about the rhythm, and once we get going the only people who can stop us are ourselves."
Oregon, one of the most prolific offensive teams in the nation last year, hopes to build on its first win by extending its home success against non-conference opponents. The Ducks have won 28 of 30 non-conference games at Autzen Stadium since the start of the 1995 season, going 5-0 against ranked teams.
"We will just have to come out, focus and prepare and do what we gotta do," Barner said.
Utah has won six of its last eight against teams from the Pac-10, including a 17-13 home upset over then-No. 19 Oregon the last time they met Oct. 3, 2003.
The Ducks have a 17-8 advantage in the series, including 9-4 in Eugene, where the Utes haven't won since 1994.
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every College Football game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.
Utah aims to keep the nation's longest winning streak alive when it visits Oregon. The Utes have won 16 straight after beating San Jose State this past week. The Ducks have won 28 of 30 nonconference games at Autzen Stadium since the start of the 1995 season, going 5-0 against ranked teams.