Oregon football’s top 10 moments of 2012

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Posted by Jackson Long on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 8:00 pm.

#10 — Will Murphy gets a touchdown

A walk-on player from Albany, Ore., less than an hour away from Eugene, Will Murphy was a redshirt scout team member in 2008. In 2009, 2010 and 2011 he played minimal meaningful minutes. But in 2012, Murphy amassed 181 yards on 19 grabs, including his first career touchdown, a bobbling snag in the fourth quarter against Cal.

#9 — Mariota’s wacky game against ASU

Despite only passing for 46 yards, Marcus Mariota had a stellar showing against Arizona State, as he completed the rare feat of three touchdowns in three different categories. He tossed a six-yard score, rushed for an 86-yard touchdown sprint and caught a two-yard hook-shot pass from backup quarterback Bryan Bennett on a trick play.

#8 — Freshman quarterback’s incredible debut

Chip Kelly put a lot of trust in true freshman Mariota when he named him starting quarterback for the offensive juggernaut Oregon Ducks. In his first 30 minutes of play, Mariota proved his worth, completing 82 percent of his passes for an even 200 yards and three scores, while leading his team to a 50-3 first-half lead in the season opener against Arkansas State.

#7 — Clay racks up 20 tackles

In maybe the most disappointing result of the senior leader’s career, Michael Clay gave everything he had against Stanford, recording a career-best 20 tackles in the Ducks 17-14 loss. Clay was named 2012 defensive MVP for the team.

#6 — Oregon defense shuts out Arizona

Much was made of the showdown of read-option wizards, respective Arizona and Oregon head coaches Rich Rodriguez and Chip Kelly in the Ducks first Pac-12 game of the season. The scoreboard was expecting to be in perpetual change but that was only the case for one side, as Oregon’s defense turned in first shutout performance since 2010’s breeze over Portland State. The Ducks “D” picked off four passes and recovered a fumble while stonewalling the Wildcats on all four of their fourth-down attempts. The Ducks won 49-0.

#5 — 43 points in 17 minutes

When ASU and Oregon faced off in Tempe, the Sun Devils did what the Ducks typically do, scoring in the first minute of the game. Down 7-0 early, Oregon answered with a flurry of scores, scoring 43 unanswered points in the next 17 minutes, including three touchdowns in less than a three-minute span.

#4 — Mariota throws six strikes against Cal

One week after Oregon battered USC on the ground, Cal set out to stop the run and force freshman QB Marcus Mariota to win the game with his arm. The Golden Bears accomplished their goal, holding Oregon to a season-low 180 rushing yards. No matter though, as Mariota completed 27 of 34 throws for 377 yards and six scores with no interceptions, which stands as his best statistical game in 2012.

#3 — Fifth-straight Civil War win

In the final game of 2012, the Ducks romped over Oregon State for a fifth consecutive victory against the arch-rival Beavers, 48-24. It was Oregon’s best team rushing performance of the season as Barner ran for 198 yards, Thomas for 122 and Mariota for 85, with the three combining for six TDs.

#2 — DAT’s punt return

Fans and coaches covered their eyes when De’Anthony Thomas scooped up a bouncing punt at his own 27-yard line against Colorado. Thomas began his runback facing the wrong direction, taking himself back to his own 15-yard line before coming to a full halt to avoid tacklers, running down the sideline for a 73-yard touchdown, sending Autzen into a roaring frenzy.

#1 — Kenjon Barner runs rampant on USC

The Oregon-USC showdown was expected to be an offensive shootout but for the Ducks, the success came on the ground, rather than an implied aerial assault. Barner broke the Oregon record for most rushing yards in a single game with 321 yards, which is the most ever against a USC defense. The senior tailback rushed an amazing clip, gashing the Trojan defense for 8.4 yards per carry. Barner scored five touchdowns while also catching two passes for a total of 26 yards.