Troy Dye never expected to be mentioned in the same sentence as Prink Callison.

Three years ago, Dye was a bright spot in one of the darkest seasons in program history.

Oregon, only two seasons removed from playing in the College Football Playoff championship game, finished the 4-8 campaign ranked 126th our of 128 FBS teams in points allowed (41.4) and yards allowed (518.4) per game.

Entering No. 13 Oregon’s game against California on Saturday at Autzen Stadium (5 p.m., Fox), the Ducks are seventh in points allowed (10.5) and 10th in yards allowed (262.8) per game.

For the first time in 86 years, Oregon has not allowed a touchdown in three consecutive games.

The 2019 Ducks haven’t been quite as stingy as Callison’s 1933 team, which posted three shutouts during its streak.

But the the historic turnaround is not lost on Dye, who has played for three defensive coordinators (Brady Hoke, Jim Leavitt and Andy Avalos) in four seasons.

“It’s crazy. They told me after the (Stanford) game, and I was like, ’That’s really wild,’” Dye, Oregon’s star linebacker, said of matching the 1933 defense’s run of three games without allowing a touchdown celebration. “I would have never thought that in a million years, but we’re just doing what we’re doing. We’re going out there, having fun and playing the game we love to play. That’s all we can do.”

 

Oregon, coming off an open date, faces a Cal offense that lost its starting quarterback to injury during last week’s home loss to Arizona State.

The Bears (4-1, 1-1) are ranked 100th nationally in scoring (23.0 points per game) and 108th in total offense (346.0 yards per game).

The scoreboard operator at Autzen shouldn’t have to worry about keeping up with anything resembling the Ducks’ 52-49 double-overtime loss at Cal in 2016.

“We’ve really been through probably the worst defense that Oregon’s ever seen in the past 15 years and we really experienced all of that,” Dye said. “I’m just super happy and proud of the guys the way they’ve come together with our defensive coordinator. For some it’s their third, some it’s their fourth (defensive coordinator).”

Devon Modster, a UCLA transfer, will make his first start at Cal for the injured Chase Garbers.

In his only start for the Bruins, a 35-17 loss to Kansas State in the 2017 Cactus Bowl subbing for Josh Rosen, Modster threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns.

Oregon hasn’t allowed a touchdown since Auburn escaped with a 27-21 win in the opener on Bo Nix’s 26-yard pass to Seth Williams with nine seconds left.

“We’re very aware of it, but we just want to be able to play hard defense and win games,” cornerback Thomas Graham said of holding the opposition out of the end zone for 180 minutes, nine seconds. “We tell our offense every week, you score seven points and we’ll do the rest. Us doing this is actually holding ourselves accountable for what we’re telling them. …

“We don’t care if we win the game 7-6 or if we win the game 52-42, whatever it is, as long as we do what we’ve got to do.”

Justin Herbert’s group will also be tested by a strong defense.

The Bears, coached by former Oregon defensive back Justin Wilcox, are only allowing 18.6 points (28th nationally) and 366.2 yards (55th) per game.

Herbert was 19-for-24 passing for 259 yards with three touchdowns during the 21-6 win at Stanford. The Cardinal sacked the projected NFL franchise quarterback four times, and the Ducks finished with 61 net rushing yards.

The Ducks should be more explosive with the return of center Jake Hanson and wide receivers Mycah Pittman and Brenden Schooler from injury.

“We really started from scratch, like day one fall camp fundamentals,” left guard Shane Lemieux said of what the offense was able to focus on with an extra week to prepare. “I think we really just got our bodies and mental focus back and really just kind of got away from football for a couple days and relaxed.

“We came back (Tuesday) and we ran the ball really well in practice.”

The Ducks (3-1, 1-0) are the only team in the North Division without a conference loss.

If Oregon can hold serve at home against Cal and then Colorado (Oct. 11), the division race will likely come down to rivalry showdown against No. 15 Washington on Oct. 19 in Seattle.

The 1933 Webfoots defeated the Huskies 6-0 during their three-game streak of not allowing any touchdowns.

Callison’s squad finished 9-1 and shared the Pacific Coast Conference title with Stanford, but the two teams did not play that season and a committee chose the Cardinal for the Rose Bowl.

Suddenly, Dye and the Ducks are playing on a defense capable of winning a Pac-12 championship.

“I’m just super happy with the way guys have handled themselves and stayed the course,” Dye said. “Because a lot of times guys transfer, they leave, and (expletive) goes to (expletive).

“It’s a blessing to have everyone still here and working hard.”

Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email podcast mailbag questions to rthorburn@registerguard.com. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.