There was a faint hint of nervousness this evening in Eugene’s Autzen Stadium. Even the most rabid of Ducks fans worried that history might repeat itself and the Stanford Cardinal might head back to Palo Alto this evening with their third straight victory over fifth-ranked Oregon under their belts.
This time the difference in uniforms — Stanford’s stolid, clunky, boring all-whites looked quaint compared with Oregon’s cool and classy duds — was reflected in what happened on the field. The Ducks looked way sharper, and played like it, too.The home team thoroughly dominated this one, from start to finish. Never felt like Stanford was going to really threaten. Which means that when the second College Playoff rankings are announced next week, Mark Helfrich’s squad will almost certainly be placed in the top four.
Here are a few random observations from tonight’s game.
NO MORE STANFORD PROBLEM
The Cardinal had held their previous opponents to a measly 91 yards per game, averaging 2.6 yards per carry coming into tonight’s game. Oregon racked up 268 yards on the ground, averaging 6 yards per carry. The Cardinal had surrendered only four rushing touchdowns before rolling into Eugene. The Ducks matched that total by the time the final whistle blew tonight.
DOES “MARIOTA” MEAN AWESOME FREAKIN’ VOLCANO” IN HAWAIIAN?
Heisman front-runner Marcus Mariota solidified his position with a stellar game. Four TDs, two on the ground, two through the air, including an incredible escape, rollout and touchdown pass to Darren Carrington in the fourth quarter. 258 yards through the air, 85 yards on the ground. Just another day in the office against one of the top-five defenses in the country.
SCOTT FROST CAN COACH
Great play-calling by the Ducks offensive coordinator — check out Mariota’s designed run for a TD after Tony Washington (great game) caused a Kevin Hogan fumble in the third period – the perfect call, helped along by a sweet block by Charles Nelson, who continues to throw punches far above his weight class.
THOMAS TYNER IS BACK
The Oregon native ran with real authority in this game. He moved the pile, made clean, decisive cuts, and may have notched the play of the game, a spectacular TD run that included a highlight reel spin-o-rama move on his way to the end zone.
THE DUCKS’ DEFENSE SHOWED UP
Stanford never really got untracked. Ducks safety Eric Dargan was outstanding, snagging an interception on Oregon’s 1-yard line early in the third quarter — had the Cardinal scored, the game’s complexion could have changed — then forced a Hogan fumble on Stanford’s opening drive of the fourth quarter. Tony Washington and Joe Walker also came up big for the home team.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Tonight’s victory places Oregon right in the thick of the national title hunt. An away win next week against a tough Utah squad (losers in overtime to Arizona State) will do nothing but further solidify the Ducks’ hold on a national playoff berth. After tonight the “win out and you’re in the playoff” mantra rings absolutely true.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck
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