It appears that water can slow down these Ducks. But only a little.
Oregon looked as sloppy as it has all season, but took advantage of five first-half California turnovers to crush the Bears, 55-17, in a rain-soaked Eugene on Saturday night.
It was the weather that set the early tone, as the game was played in a vicious storm that cut power to more than 26,000 residents across the state.
With the field getting pounded by rain, the Bears fumbled on each of their first four possessions and then threw an interception on their sixth possession. Oregon promptly turned those miscues into 27 first-quarter points.
Not the the Ducks were perfect. They also fumbled four times in the first half, but managed to recover three of them.
Heisman Trophy front runner Marcus Mariota saw his numbers suffer a bit as a result of the weather. His receivers dropped several passes and he ended up 11 of 25 for 114 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He also rushed for 33 yards and one more score. But this game was never in doubt and he did well to keep mistakes to a minimum given the circumstances.
It was a tough outing for Cal’s Jared Goff. The freshman quarterback, who led the nation in passing yards per game coming into the contest, was just three of six for 11 yards. He was replaced by Zach Kline, who went 18 of 37 for 165 yards and one touchdown (with one pick) in the first extended playing time of his career.
The one downside to the game for the Ducks was an injury to running back De’Anthony Thomas. The junior speedster left the game after the opening kickoff due to a leg injury. His replacement, Byron Marshall, did well in his stead, rushing for a game-high 130 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Freshman Thomas Tyner added 94 yards on 13 carries, with a score.
For the Bears, things only get tougher. After hosting WSU, they must face UCLA, Oregon State and Washington in consecutive weeks. Getting to three wins this season is going to be a serious challenge. While the offense should be proficient, the defense looks to be on life support.
The Ducks are now 4-0 and averaging a shade under 60 points per game. A warm up game against Colorado is up next and then Oregon faces its first test of the season at No. 16 Washington.