We can’t let this happen again. No way, not under any circumstances. No ifs, ands or buts about it: we won’t let this happen again!
Three years ago almost to the day, a 17th-ranked Colorado team came into Autzen and stunned the Ducks 41-38. In that game, redshirt freshman quarterback Steven Montez made his first career start, and boy was it one to remember. After senior captain and starting quarterback Sefo Liufau went down with an injury the week prior against Michigan, Montez stepped in. He threw for 333 yards and 3 touchdowns and ran for 135 yards and a score. When describing his first career win against Oregon, Montez said,
“It still feels like a dream.”
This game in 2019 might have felt more like a nightmare.
Scoring Early and Often
After winning the coin toss and electing to receive, Oregon jumped out of the gate early. Quarterback Justin Herbert led the Ducks on an eight-play, 75-yard drive and capped it off with a 5-yard touchdown to ol’ reliable Jacob Breeland.
On Colorado’s opening possession, Oregon stifled the Buffaloes, forcing a quick three-and-out, and let’s just say this was a theme for the entire night. In the ensuing possession, the Ducks failed to convert on fourth down, giving the ball back to Colorado, which led to a Buffalo field goal and a 7-3 game.
It was all downhill from there for the Buffaloes.
The Ducks scored on three of their next four possessions, including rushing touchdowns by Cyrus Habibi-Likio and Jaylon Red, and hit the locker room with a commanding 24-3 halftime lead. The Ducks were rolling, and Autzen was roaring in a rare, Friday Night Lights game.
A Long Night for Colorado
The Ducks’ up-tempo offense exhausted Colorado’s defense and made it impossible for them to make substitutions. As for the Ducks’ defense, they were physical at the point of attack and made Montez uncomfortable on almost every play. It also helped that the crowd was acting as a true 12th man, forcing Colorado to call timeouts on routine plays.
Colorado opened the second half with possession of the ball and some hope, but neither lasted long. Montez threw his second interception, this one landing in the hands of Oregon linebacker Bryson Young.
While Montez threw another two interceptions in the third quarter, totaling four on the night, Oregon kept scoring. The Ducks proceeded to score three touchdowns in their next four possessions. Herbert threw his second touchdown to Redd while Habibi-Likio ran for his second and third score.
With thescore 45-3 Ducks early in 4th quarter, second-string quarterback Tyler Shough made his Pac-12 debut. Although Shough did not contribute much offensively, he killed clock and prevented Colorado from getting another opportunity to score.
The waning seconds of the game ended at 10:30 PM PST, although it felt like it had been over since the middle of the second quarter. Oregon had just finished arguably its most complete game of the season. The defense was stellar as usual while the offense also held up its end of the bargain.
But what can’t get lost in Oregon’s big victory were the injuries. Arguably Oregon’s two best defensive players, Troy Dye and Jevon Holland, were helped off the field on the same play. Herbert’s favorite target Jacob Breeland was taken to the locker room with an injury as well. After the game, Mario Cristobal addressed the injuries:
“We feel that Troy [Dye] and Jevon’s [Holland] injuries are pretty minor. We’re going to further assess Jake Breeland, so as soon as we get word on that, we’ll get that to you guys.”
Luckily, it seems that Oregon’s defensive studs will be okay. However, if Breeland misses time it could be detrimental to an offense that just started clicking and has Washington and Washington State ahead of them.
Speaking with Coach Tucker
Although Oregon was predicted to win this game, the degree to which they dominated both sides of the ball was quite shocking and a little exhilarating as well. Was it due to Oregon’s successful game plan or Colorado’s lack of execution? I asked this to Colorado coach, Mel Tucker and he emphasized:
“Turnovers killed us. The most disappointing thing to me is that we abandoned our game plan as soon as we hit adversity.”
Although he was dissatisfied in his team, he did give credit to Oregon:
“When playing a team of this caliber with this much talent, your margin for error is razor thin. They are one of the best teams in the nation and are going win a lot of football games this season.”
Locker Room Frustration
After speaking with coach Tucker, I went into the Colorado locker room hoping to get some juicy quotes from the opposing players. Unfortunately, it proved to be far more difficult than I anticipated. The room was quiet and the mood somber. The players just seemed defeated.
I did have an opportunity to speak with starting inside linebacker Nate Landman, and I asked him about how the challenges they faced against a talented Oregon offense. He said,
“When you have an elite offense line like [Oregon] does, it opens everything else up. The running backs have bigger holes to run through and when you give Justin [Herbert] time to throw, he’s going to make plays.”
It might have taken three years, but Oregon finally exacted its revenge on those pesky Buffaloes.
For Oregon, it should be thrilled about how well it played and soak it all up… for a day. Because those damn Huskies are up next on the schedule, and they are looking at this game as revenge for last year’s overtime loss that derailed their season. I say we go up to Seattle and Husky Stadium in flocks. Let’s show Washington what this team is made of and make them remember who their big brother is.
Anyone with me?
Eugene, OregonTop Photo by Eugene Johnson
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
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