LOS ANGELES — Justin Herbert and the paparazzi don’t sound like a good mix.

But Oregon’s seemingly camera shy leading man brings movie star hair and a Tinsletown nickname to the Rose Bowl.

“I always call him ‘Hollywood’ just because that’s not who he really is,” left guard Shane Lemieux said. “He’ll follow it up with a punch in the arm or something. We have a good time with Justin.”

Lemieux and his offensive line classmates — center Jake Hanson, right guard Brady Aiello and right tackle Calvin Throckmorton — have been fast friends since rooming together as true freshmen and formed an unbreakable bond going through a grim 4-8 season together in 2016.

These four giant pillars of the program started off as regular college dudes just trying to figure out how to cook their own meals and properly do their own laundry.

“A lot of times it was looking through the fridge finding due dates, those expired labels,” Lemieux said. “There was a lot of expired stuff.”

Suddenly, the tight-knit group’s time together is expiring.

No. 7 Oregon went through its final padded practice Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif., ahead of the “Granddaddy of Them All” against No. 11 Wisconsin on Wednesday in Pasadena, Calif.

“I’m just kind of taking the whole week in because it’s the kind of deal that I’ve worked five years for this opportunity,” Hanson said. “Obviously it’s the last game of my college football career, so I’m just enjoying everything about it.”

In 2016, the offense line endured the firing of Mark Helfrich and his staff, including respected assistant Steve Greatwood. The veteran offensive line coach was quickly hired by former Oregon player Justin Wilcox at California and will retire after the Bears play in the Redbox Bowl.

 

Following the Willie Taggart departure — the nomad left Oregon after one season for Florida State — offensive line coach Mario Cristobal was promoted to head coach.

“I came here for coach Greatwood,” said Lemieux, one of the many Ducks who petitioned for Cristobal to replace Taggart before the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl. “Phenomenal football coach, great mentor in my life. I came here for him and a lot of guys came here for him on the offensive line. …

“If Cristobal was at Oregon, I would have came to Oregon for him. It was kind of one of those things, we knew having an offensive line coach would be really cool as a head coach. That’s not something you see at a lot of football programs. We were all aware of how good Cristobal was.”

Herbert, a sort of adopted member of the offensive line after being thrown into the Pac-12 fire behind them as a true freshman, was also on board with Cristobal’s stabilizing presence.

Over the last two seasons, Oregon is 20-6 — including 4-0 against Washington and Oregon State, two rivals that embarrassed them in 2016 — with a Pac-12 championship and a chance to win a Rose Bowl.

“They gave me a pretty tough time for my first couple months, but I’d like to say I got brought in later,” Herbert said of his fraternal relationship with the offensive line. “They were pretty tough on me, and I think it made me a better player.

“I was thankful for that and glad I’m finally in their group, I guess.”

Oregon’s offense is coming off a dominant performance in the 37-15 victory over Utah in the Pac-12 title game.

Herbert passed for 193 yards and a touchdown after helping loosen up the Utes’ defense with some designed runs.

CJ Verdell earned most valuable player honors after rushing for 208 yards and three touchdowns during a virtuoso performance by the offensive line.

“Schematically, they’re great,” Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said. “They stretch you out the width of the field, the length of the field, and they do some great things and get everybody involved. So we’ve got a big test on our hands, and it starts up front.

“They’ve seen everything that you can throw at them.”

During the past two seasons, Outland Trophy-winning left tackle Penei Sewell and Alabama transfer right guard Dallas Warmack have fit in seamlessly with the four-year starters.

Oregon has a combined 218 career starts along the offensive line, which is the most in the nation.

“I think that is something probably everyone should take note of,” offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said of the unit sticking it out through thick and thin. “We’re highlighting the ability for all these guys to stay together. …

“I think the continuity of a staff, continuity of players, enhances relationships and chemistry.”

Herbert’s decision to return for his senior season at Oregon instead of entering the NFL has led to a Hollywood ending.

“It goes by fast,” Herbert said. “But we’ve done a good job of remembering it and enjoying the ride all throughout the years.”

One last ride at the Rose Bowl.

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