'Play for that No. 1 spot still no matter where we're at in the standings'

'Play for that No. 1 spot still no matter where we're at in the standings'
Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas talks to the media during Oregon Media Day at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. Monday, August 5, 2013. (Brian Davies/Associated Press)

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — While many ponder the health of quarterback Marcus Mariota's left knee, Oregon's focus is solely on moving on.

The sixth-ranked Ducks are eager to bury last week's loss to Stanford. The first step will come on Saturday when they host Utah.

"One game doesn't define your season," Mariota said. "We're going to keep chopping away and eventually we'll pick up our heads in December and see where we're at."

There's no doubt that the 26-20 loss to the Cardinal spoiled the Ducks' shot at a spot in the national championship game. Depending on how the rest of the season plays out, it may have also cost them a place in the Pac-12 championship game.

But if the Ducks (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) take care of their own business and win out, they'll still likely play in their fifth straight BCS bowl game, probably the Fiesta or the Orange.

"Yes, we still have a lot to play for," running back De'Anthony Thomas said. "We should still play for that No. 1 spot still no matter where we're at in the standings."

Mariota wore a brace on his knee during the loss to Stanford and it clearly impacted the sophomore's mobility. He insisted this week that his knee isn't an issue, but wouldn't say if he's 100 percent. As a policy, Oregon does not discuss injuries.

Still a Heisman hopeful, Mariota has completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 22 touchdowns with no interceptions. And he's second on the team with 495 yards rushing with nine additional TDs.

Ironically, Stanford's lone loss of the season came at the hands of the Utes (4-5, 1-5).

The 27-21 victory was huge for Utah, which installed a new uptempo offense for its third Pac-12 season. But it remains the team's lone conference victory this season.

The Utes have lost three straight games since, including last weekend's 20-19 loss at home to No. 21 Arizona State. Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly ran for a touchdown and threw for another in the fourth quarter for the come-from-behind win.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he sees progress, even if the record doesn't reflect it.

"We're more competitive, but it's not about being competitive. It's about getting W's. That's the next hurdle we got to get over is finding a way to win these games," he said. "But like I said, last year, a lot of the games we weren't even in. We made progress, but nobody cares unless you get the W. Nobody cares what else is going on."