After a shaky first quarter, the Oregon Ducks, led by an outstanding defensive performance and a Heisman-clinching game from Marcus Mariota, absolutely destroyed the 7th-ranked Arizona Wildcats, 51-13 in this evening’s Pac-12 title game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
After leading 23-0 at the half, the Ducks wasted no time asserting themselves in the third quarter. They moved from a raft of penalties, dropped balls, poorly thrown passes, and missed scoring opportunities in the first half to near error-free ball in the second, scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter, including a 4-yard pass from Mariota to Devon Allen, an 11-yard pass from Mariota to Darren Carrington and a 1-yard Mariota run.
With the score 44-7 entering the final quarter, the end result was a forgone conclusion. Senior backup running back Kenny Basset’s outstanding 19-yard scamper for a score was a highlight. Arizona third-string quarterback Jerrard Randall scored on the last play of the game to make the final score 51-13.
While statistics don’t always tell the whole story, they did tonight.
The Ducks gained 627 yards in total offense to Arizona’s 224. The Ducks totaled 301 yards on the ground and 326 through the air in an amazingly balanced attack. The Ducks also won the turnover battle, 2-0. They even dominated time of possession, 37:12 to the Wildcats’ 22:48.
Individually, Mariota virtually guaranteed himself the Heisman tonight, throwing for 313 yards on 25/38 passing with zero interceptions, while adding 33 yards on the ground. He accounted for five TDs, two through the air and three running.
Speaking of running, Royce Freeman gained 114 yards on 21 carries, a 5.4 yards per carry average with much of that coming on tough runs into the heart of the Arizona defense. Charles Nelson added 44 yards and Kenny Basset, 40.
Among the Ducks’ receivers, Darren Carrington led the way with seven receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown. His 46 yard reception on an incredible scramble and throw by Mariota was highlight reel worthy. Charles Nelson was also outstanding, snagging seven catches for 104 yards including a catch-and-run that netted 73 yards. Devon Allen with five catches for 46 yards, and Byron Marshall with five for 23 yards also made some difficult grabs.
If ever there was a statement game, this was it. If Alabama doesn’t beat Missouri in tomorrow’s SEC conference championship game – and win impressively – there’s every chance Oregon will go into the first-ever college football championships ranked as the top team in the nation.
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove