What a dogfight, what a battle, what a game that was for the Ducks. Last night, Oregon flocked out of Rice-Eccles Stadium with 51-27 victory over the tough Utah Utes. It wasn’t easy for Oregon to win this game as Utah exemplifies a team with immense heart and wouldn’t go down without a solid fight. Offensively, the Ducks were unstoppable — more than half of their scoring drives were less than one minute and thirty seconds. Last week the Ducks pulled off an impressive win against Stanford, a team that has been derailing Oregon’s national championship dreams the past two seasons. And last night, the Ducks made another statement, showing the College Football Playoff Selection Committee that they’re still the real deal. Here are three key takeaways from last night’s performance:
1. The Injury Bug Strikes Again
Yes Duck fans, there were some very gruesome injuries that occurred last night that could affect the Ducks in the long run. Early in the first half of the game, the loss of CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu definitely hurt the Ducks. While this injury does not appear to be serious, the possibility remains that he may miss additional playing time. Another devastating injury is starting center Hroniss Grasu going down with a possible knee injury. Grasu has served as a leader on the offensive line this whole season and Oregon’s O-line is already beaten up.
However, the worst injury by far Saturday night was TE Pharaoh Brown. While running a route during a goal line play, Brown attempted to cut to the right and twisted his leg awkwardly to the left. As the photo is too gruesome to post on this article, there are videos of it available on Youtube.com. Unfortunately, these injuries will most likely make it difficult for the Ducks as they continue their pursuit of the national championship. My heart goes out to these players as they’re also students at the University of Oregon. I wish all those players a speedy, but safe recovery.
2. The Heisman Front-Runner
On to good news — are any Duck fans surprised by Marcus Mariota’s performance last night? Well, you shouldn’t be. The Heisman Trophy candidate guided his team with an absolutely amazing performance consisting of 350 total yards of offense and four touchdowns against a very talented, tough, and well-coached defense in Utah. Who can forget Mariota’s stunning 61-yard run early in the game? During the game, it seemed that whenever the Utes scored a touchdown or field goal, Mariota marched his offense down the field with pure poise and leadership, essential characteristics of a Heisman Trophy winner. By far, Marcus Mariota was truly the player of the game last night.
3. Clinching the Pac-12 North
Saturday night’s win proved a costly win as the Ducks officially have locked up the North Division of the Pac-12. With Stanford and Utah out of the way, the Ducks only have to worry about Colorado and Oregon State. Both of these games have the Ducks heavily favored, as Colorado is ranked dead last in the Pac-12 South and Oregon State is ranked dead last in the Pac-12 North. All in all, Oregon’s hopes are still alive with this win over the Utes, and the Ducks are still in the hunt for the national championship.
This game without a doubt was no cakewalk for the Ducks. Because of all the injuries, Oregon may be affected in the long term. As fans, we can only hope that the injuries to Ekpre-Olomu, Brown, and Grasu are not too severe. For now, it’s expected for the Ducks to take it easy for a little and the get back on track for Colorado after a bye week.
Top Photos by Kevin Cline (from 2013 game in Eugene)