Forecasts predicted a monsoon at Autzen Stadium and they came to fruition in the first night game of the year. Oregon hosted California for its Pac-12 season opener and as expected, it wasn’t pretty. The Ducks cruised to a 55-16 win and complimented weather conditions that handicapped the second-ranked passing offense in the country.
This was the first time in history that the Ducks scored over 50 points in four straight games, adding yet another stat to the record books. In retrospect, the 36.5-point spread looks to have been on the conservative side.
The Ducks started off with a scare when De’Anthony Thomas went down with what looked to be a severe ankle sprain on the first play of the game. Thomas did return to the sidelines in the second half, but anchored two crutches beneath his arms. Luckily for Oregon, there were two capable backs ready to go.
“It was pretty frustrating because I’m always in the game and I’m not used to being out, but I just got to learn from it,” Thomas said. “Just come back and go even harder.”
Following the injury to Thomas, Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner responded in strong fashion. Along with two touchdowns, Marshall finished the game with 130 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, while Tyner rushed for 112 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries to add onto the freight train that was the Oregon offense. The two simply carried the load on offense all night long and performed admirably en route to their first conference win of the year.
“I am definitely happy with how I responded,” Marshall said. “It was a slow start for myself. I feel like I don’t fumble very much, it’s not OK. No matter what the condition it is, it’s not OK. But we didn’t lose the ball, we still kept possession and you can just keep playing.”
Sparking excitement, however, was Bralon Addison. Addison returned two punts for touchdowns — from 75 and 67 yards — putting entrees into ESPN’s Top 10 plays.
“Really set the tone for the second half in a big way,” Helfrich said of Bralon Addison’s two returns for touchdowns.
In the air, it was another field day for Marcus Mariota. Mariota finished with three total touchdowns and kept his perfect streak in the turnover department intact for the fourth game in a row. While the California defense was ranked 121st in the country heading into the game, Mariota solidified his place in the Heisman race once more and was eventually rewarded with a fourth quarter rest.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Mariota said on playing in a monsoon. “Like I was saying earlier, it’s not an excuse. It’s just something you have to get used to and I felt like offensively we did well moving the ball. Obviously I could have thrown the ball better, but that’s stuff we can take care of in practice.”
For California, this was not a night to remember as they turned the ball over five times in the first half. The Golden Bears were held to 10 points and failed to reach 300 yards in a game that was out of reach by halftime.
To put things in perspective, quarterback Jared Goff was replaced early in the second quarter by Zach Kline, who ended the game with a mediocre stat line. Goff was 3-of-6 for 11 yards before being subbed out, and he simply could not adjust to the rain and heavy winds.
The benefactors of a struggling California offense were, of course, the Oregon defense. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Derrick Malone both finished the game with eight tackles and played a huge part in containing a fast-paced offense that was in search of rhythm the entire game. The Oregon defense was simply on a tear Saturday night and ended the game with four forced fumbles; something that is notable in any matchup, let alone Pac-12 play.
The Ducks will now take Sunday off before preparing for Colorado next weekend. This will be the first road conference game of the year as the Ducks try and remain perfect on the year.
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