Brock Mansion made his first career start last week, but this will be a whole lot different.
The quarterback performed decently in helping Cal to a 20-13 win at Washington State, the Bears' first win away from Memorial Stadium this season. Now, Mansion gets to make his first career start at home, and do so against the No. 1 team in the country.
"It's a great opportunity," Mansion said. "Everybody on the team is excited."
While much of the focus will be on whether the Bears can slow down Oregon's high-powered offense, Cal figures to need to score some points to keep up with the Ducks. That likely will be more challenging for an offense led by an inexperienced quarterback.
But Mansion appeared cool and threw some good balls against the Cougars, finishing 12 for 24 for 171 yards with two interceptions. And he should be even more comfortable having his second week of practice as a starter in the books.
"I think each week it's going to improve," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He practiced really well, threw the ball really accurately. He's playing with confidence, studying really hard to make sure he knows the game plan. He's had a good week."
Despite the tough schedule, the Bears like the position they are in to finish strong.
"I think we're in a perfect spot," Cal safety Sean Cattouse said. "We have huge games coming up, and they're at home. You can't ask for anything more. We know these games are huge for us. It's a huge opportunity to finish the season strong. We have a chance to have some statement games."
The Bears have had an up-and-down season, but it's been all positive at home. Cal is 4-0 at Memorial Stadium, outscoring opponents by an average of 47-16. Of course, the Bears have yet to face opponents like Oregon and Stanford in Berkeley.
"The season obviously hasn't gone as best as it could have," Cal running back Shane Vereen said. "I think we now see an opportunity to turn things around. We get to come back home and play in front of our crowd."
Said Cattouse: "We know how we play here. It's going to be a fight. They better come ready."
Mohamed was in and out of the lineup against Washington State, but part of that is because Cal used five or six defensive backs and didn't need as many linebackers on the field. Mohamed said it didn't affect his play.
"It kind of stinks not having a thumb," he said. "It didn't hurt at all. It's all wrapped up. I don't expect it to be an issue this week, either."
Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said there were some plays where the thumb didn't allow Mohamed to shed blocks as easily as usual but expects it to be better against the Ducks.
"He got stuck on a couple blocks last week," Pendergast said. "A couple of those runs, if he had two arms and two hands, he would have got off the block. He had some limitations, but I think it was more of a feel type thing to get through it. Now, he's had it on for a week, so I anticipate him being better than he was last week."