After collapsing last week in an overtime loss to Stanford, the college football world was wondering how the No. 19 Ducks would rebound after such a disappointing loss from the week before.
That answer was unknown up until four minutes remaining in the game, but when Ugo Amadi returned an interception for a touchdown, it sealed a 42-24 Oregon win over No. 24 California.
The win improves Oregon to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in conference play. The win also broke a five-game conference road losing streak and it was the first Oregon victory in Berkeley since 2012.
It was a much-needed win for Oregon’s morale. A loss might have sent the young team into a downward spiral. But now, the Ducks will be riding high with a bye week on the horizon before Washington comes calling Oct. 13.
While the offense was efficient enough, it was the defense that caused five Bear turnovers, in which Oregon scored on two of them. Amadi had two interceptions, including the Pick-6 that sealed the deal. Jevon Holland also managed two interceptions.
Justin Herbert finished the game 16-of-22 for 225 yards and two scores. Dillon Mitchell once again proved to be a cornerback’s nightmare with his seven catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.
The Ducks also had a pair of tailback go over the century mark on the ground. Travis Dye led Oregon with 115 yard on 20 carries and a score with CJ Verdell going 106 yards on just nine carries.
Defensively, the Ducks bent a lot of the time, but never really broke. Cal managed to get some points, but once the Bears found themselves down 28-10, they never were really back in the game.
Troy Dye led the way with 11 tackles, four of those solo and 1.5 tackles for loss. Amadi managed seven tackles to go with the pair of picks and Thomas Graham, Jr. added six tackles.
For the second week in a row, the Ducks went into the halftime locker room feeling good about themselves after playing a great half of football.
Oregon took a commanding 28-10 lead and all the momentum in the world on its sideline, especially when they scored its last first half touchdown on a fumble recovery. Cal was on its way to make it 21-17, but Drayton Carlberg nailed quarterback Brandon McIlwain from behind, causing him to fumble and La’Mar Winston Jr. picked up the bouncing football and rumbled 61 yards for the touchdown.
A 28-10 lead in much, much different than being up 21-17 and it being anyone’s game.
That play was indicative of how the entire first half went for the Ducks. Cal managed to take off over seven minutes off the clock on its opening drive that ended with a field goal. After that, it was all Ducks.
Herbert and the offense responded immediately with an eight-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kano Dillon for the 7-3 lead.
Cal briefly took the lead back when McIlwain ran for a 28-yard touchdown to complete a 90-yard drive to make it 10-7.
The Ducks managed to respond accordingly when Travis Dye exploded up the middle on a 45-yard touchdown run to give Oregon the lead for good.
Oregon’s defense forced a three-and-out to set up its offense once again. It took Herbert just four plays to go 81 yards. He found Dillon Mitchell on a 36-yard touchdown to make it 21-10. Herbert was 10-of-14 for 172 yards and two scores.
The Ducks will now have two weeks to prepare for one of their biggest rivals. Washington will come to Eugene most likely as a Top 10 team, but Oregon will be looking for a little redemption. Not only have the Dawgs defeated the Ducks in two straight seasons, the last time the Huskies were in Autzen, they laid waste to the home team in a 70-21 thumping.
Oregon has plenty of time and talent to make sure that won’t happen again this time around.
~ Don Smalley
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