After Another Blowout, Ducks Will Be Tested for Remainder of Season
There are many words that could be used to describe Oregon’s blowout win over Colorado on Saturday. Competitive is not one that could be found among those. The Ducks once again scored at will against a weaker opponent, something they’ve done just about every week. In fact, the only time all season that the game wasn’t settled by halftime was against Washington State when the Ducks led 23-19 at halftime.
Week in and week out, Chip Kelly has had to take his foot off the gas pedal early, and Saturday was no exception. Before the first half was up, Kelly already had his backups in the game. That didn’t stop the bleeding, however. Byron Marshall and Bryan Bennett took control. The Ducks led 56-0 at halftime.
The second half was pretty typical for Oregon with the foot off the gas pedal. Bennett and Marshall led the way with a conservative ground attack mixed in with several nice plays. Oregon was able to tack on 14 more points in the final half, something they failed to do last week against Arizona State.
On the ground, four players for the Ducks had 50-plus rushing yards, with Kenjon Barner‘s 104 yards in the first half leading the way. De’Anthony Thomas had another explosive day with 97 rushing yards on five carries. Bennett was a touchdown machine on the ground for the Ducks, Saturday, with three rushing touchdowns on the day.
Through the air, Marcus Mariota had an efficient day, completing 10 of 14 passing for 136 yards and two touchdowns, adding a rushing touchdown as well.
The season for Oregon takes a bit of a twist here. Next week, the Ducks travel to LA to take on USC to begin what will be one of the more difficult November schedules in the nation. If you had asked me before the season started, I would’ve said that USC would win that matchup. However, the Trojans have showed that they are beatable… twice. Oregon’s main problem going into this matchup is that they really haven’t been tested this year, with the exception of the Washington State game. In that matchup, though, Oregon made their adjustments in the locker room at halftime and blew out the Cougars the rest of the way. This will be the first game of the year where Oregon won’t have to take their foot off the gas pedal before the game is up.
The Ducks will head right back to the Golden State the following week to take on Cal. This game, while seeming like a blowout on paper, will be a trap game for the Ducks. Oregon has struggled for years in Berkeley. In the past decade, the Ducks have beat Cal just once at Memorial Stadium. Their one win was a sloppy 15-13 performance. In fact, if it wasn’t for a false start against Cal’s kicker, the Ducks could have easily lost that game. It’ll be the last time Oregon faces an unranked opponent during the year, but they still need to treat it as a big game. Chip Kelly says the Ducks treat every game like it is the Super Bowl, and that’s exactly what Oregon will need to do against Cal.
Oregon’s final home game of the year will be against Stanford, currently ranked No. 17 in the nation. Much like USC, the Cardinal have shown they’re beatable. Earlier in the year, Stanford fell to Washington 17-13 in Seattle, and suffered a heartbreaking 20-13 loss to Notre Dame in overtime.
But unlike Oregon, Stanford has been forced to play under pressure with the game on the line. Five of Stanford’s eight games have been decided by a touchdown or less, and two of those games have gone into overtime.
Oregon’s closest game was a 42-25 win over Fresno State, a game where the Ducks led 35-6 at the half. Stanford has proved they can hang with the nation’s top programs, and they’ll be looking to spoil Senior Night at Autzen on November 17th.
Last but not least, the Ducks will head north to Corvallis to take on the No. 7 Oregon State Beavers, without a doubt the most surprising team in the nation this season. The Beavers, who went 3-9 last season, have fought their way into position to reach a BCS bowl game for the first time since the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. Despite OSU’s lost yesterday, it will still be one of the most important games in the history of the rivalry. The game could decide who wins the Pac-12 North for a berth in the conference championship game on December 1st. For now, the Beavers are scheduled to face Nichols State that day. The two teams were initially supposed to open the season against each other, but the game was postponed due to Nichols State not being able to fly out with Hurricane Isaac grounding flights. This could be a Civil War that the entire nation will have its eyes on.
The tuneup games are over. The backups have seen their playing time come to an end now. After playing one of the easiest schedules in the nation for the first two months of the season, November will make or break the Ducks quest to return to the BCS championship. One wrong move, and the Ducks will have to give their ticket to Miami to the next team in line. So buckle up Ducks fans, it’s going to be a wild November.