After a two game losing streak against the Stanford Cardinal, Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks were vindicated with a 45-16 victory Saturday night.
“To get get this win is huge, it will build a lot of momentum heading into the rest of the year,” Mariota said. It was one of those things — good to get it under your belt and bury the hatchet a little.”
The Ducks were clearly the star of the show on Saturday night at Autzen Stadium. Both teams had a lot to fight for, but Oregon pulled out the win in the end.
Mariota himself had a lot to fight for, as he has been repeatedly frustrated by the Stanford defense during his time at Oregon. He threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for two more scores. Mariota led the offense in a skilled and almost mechanized way.
After an impressive offensive performance, Mariota still had a lot of respect for Stanford and their defense.
“These defenses, they’re so stout, sometimes you’ll get a yard or two on the first down, and you can’t think that’s the end of the world. You’ve just got to continue to battle,” Mariota commented.
That determination really paid off for Oregon, causing problems for the Cardinal defense. Heading into the matchup, Stanford’s defense had not allowed an opponent to score more than 30 points in a string of 31 games, the longest streak in the nation.
The Cardinal defense had previously allowed an average of 250.6 yards per game and 12.5 points. They allowed just four rushing touchdowns throughout the season’s first eight games. Those are impressive numbers from an impressive defense, but then they took a road trip north to Eugene where things fell apart.
Oregon dominated on the ground, totaling four touchdowns on the day. Even further, the Ducks put up 525 yards of offense.
Mariota, Thomas Tyner, and Royce Freeman accounted for 268 rushing yards on 6.0 yards per carry.
Oregon’s offense was very efficient and their defense put pressure on Kevin Hogan and the Cardinal offense. The Ducks really needed to prove themselves in this game, especially against a solid defense. Oregon needed this test to prepare for an even more formidable defense in Utah.
There is no doubt that Oregon is a talented team, and has shown the world what they can do over the past few seasons. But every year, their championship hopes have been crushed by Stanford. While Stanford’s hopes of a Pac-12 championship title are all but eradicated, Oregon’s championship hopes are looking very bright.
Oregon has been able to grow and learn from it’s previous mistakes. This is not a result of just pure talent, but their ability to bounce back as well. Coming off the loss to Arizona, head coach Mark Helfrich and his staff were able to reenergize the team and distinguish themselves as the clear leader of the Pac-12, in which no other team seems to compare.
Saturday’s game set the stage for the rest of the season, not only in the Pac-12, but the entire lanscape of college football. While Oregon will face a few tests in the remaining weeks of regular-season play, it seems they are ready to prove to the playoff committee and the world, that they are ready to make a championship run.
*Section Photo and Featured Photo (above) credit to Steve Dykes, Getty Images.