For most of the past decade, Stanford and Oregon have combined for the game of the year in the Pac-12.
On Saturday, there wasn’t much of a game at all.
The Cardinal rolled over the Ducks in Eugene to continue their miserable season by winning 52-27 in a game that wasn’t even that close.
Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst had no troubles jumpstarting the team’s lackluster offense, throwing for 258 yards and three touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey also got back on track and ran for 135 yards and three scores to go with a team-high five catches.
The team finished the game with 540 yards of total offense and averaged nearly eight yards a play.
Oregon tailback Royce Freeman looked a bit like his old self in rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown but it just wasn’t enough. Freshman signal-caller Justin Herbert looked confused most of the day and was limited to 274 yards and two touchdowns while tossing two picks as well.
The shellacking at the hands of their Pac-12 North rival will only continue to put pressure on head coach Mark Helfrich as the team is all but eliminated from a bowl game.
Oregon’s fifth offensive snap came midway through the first quarter but it said plenty about the state of their big rivalry matchup against Washington that the Ducks trailed by two touchdowns at that point in the game.
Things could have been much, much worse for coach Mark Helfrich’s squad however had the Huskies not made a few minor mistakes but the visitors nevertheless went to the locker room at halftime up 35-7 in a game that wasn’t even that close.
Running back Myles Gaskin was the star of the show offensively for UW, ripping off two 65+ yard runs against the iffy Ducks defense on his way to 154 yards and a score before the whistle. His fellow sophomore in the backfield wasn’t too bad either as quarterback Jake Browning threw just three incompletions to go with his two touchdown throws.
As bad as the Oregon defense was, they didn’t receive much help from their normally prolific offense. New signal-caller Justin Herbert was picked off on his first pass as a starter but did rally late and throw a touchdown as time was winding down in the second quarter. Normally reliable tailback Royce Freeman fumbled in the red zone to hamper the bright spot of his 4.5 yards a carry.
It’s been 12 long years since Washington beat their Pacific Northwest rival but judging by how both teams played in the first half, that long streak appears to be coming to an end this week.
Nebraska head coach Mike Riley had a seven-game losing streak against Oregon dating back to his years as head coach of Oregon State. So when Nebraska brought down No. 22 Oregon quarterback Dakota Prukop on fourth down and saw the final seconds tick away off the clock, there was a reason to celebrate with a Gatorade shower for Riley. Nebraska (3-0) held on for a 35-32 victory over the Pac-12’s Ducks and enter Big Ten play with momentum that eluded them a year ago.
Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong ran 34 yards for a touchdown with 2:29 to play, giving the Cornhuskers a 35-32 lead. Oregon once led the game, 20-7, and was unable to hold Nebraska down in the second half.
This one will not be fun to review for new Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke, who made his return to a Big Ten stadium for the first time since being fired by Michigan two years ago. Nebraska had 228 rushing yards, with Armstrong leading the way with 96 rushing yards and a touchdown and Devine Ozigbo nearly equaling him with 94 yards and a touchdown. Terrell Newby chipped in with 42 rushing yards as well. Armstrong’s passing effort helped lead the way too with 200 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.
Oregon’s offense took an early hit in the first half with running back Royce Freeman going down with a leg injury. He did not return, leading the Ducks to look to Prukop, Taj Griffin and Kani Benoit to take care of the ground attack. It was effective with 327 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Oregon’s unique decisions to go for two-point conversions came back to haunt them, perhaps. Oregon attempted five two-point conversions and converted on just the first one in the game. That left four potential points off the scoreboard in a three-point game. Take the points, Oregon. Take. The. Points.
Nebraska will hit the road next week for their first Big Ten game of the season. The Cornhuskers travel to Northwestern, a team that has given Nebraska the fits in recent years. Oregon will return home for its Pac-12 opener against Colorado. Colorado gave Michigan a run for a while in Ann Arbor before the Wolverines put them away in the second half of a 45-28 victory.
In a Big Ten-Pac-12 battle, Oregon and Nebraska may have been expected to put a bunch of points on the scoreboard. The first half has had a more defensive approach, with Oregon holding a 20-14 lead at the halftime break in Lincoln. The main story of the first half, however, has been a notable injury to one of the top offensive weapons for the Ducks.
Oregon running back Royce Freeman left the game with an apparent leg injury after rushing five times for 31 yards. He was spotted on the field with ice wrapped around his right knee on the bench with a towel over his head. The extent of the injury has been unconfirmed, but he has not returned.
Oregon was first to score in Lincoln with a 20-yard touchdown run by Tony Brooks in the first quarter on third down. In typical Ducks fashion, Oregon opted to go for two points instead of kick the extra point, and the conversion was successful. It took slightly longer for the Cornhuskers to answer, but they did later in the first quarter with Tommy Armstrong connecting with Jordan Westerkamp from 22 yards. Nebraska kicked the extra point to create a one-point game.
Oregon expanded its lead in the second quarter with a short touchdown run by Brooks from the two-yard line on third down. The defense came through with a fumble recovery after Armstrong lost control of the football. It was returned 34 yards to midfield by Oregon, and Taj Griffin dashed 50 yards for a score on the very next play for a 20-7 lead..
Nebraska did cut into the lead thanks to some penalties against Oregon’s defense giving the Cornhuskers multiple opportunities right before the half. Armstrong eventually found Westerkamp in the end zone for one last score in the first half.
Oregon’s starting tailback has one of the better nicknames in college football: ‘Rolls’ Royce Freeman.
It’s an apt nickname too, especially after his effort on Saturday night in an 44-26 win over Virginia in which he raced away from the Cavaliers defense like one of his namesake’s cars can usually be found racing away from paparazzi. Freeman finished the night with 21 carries for 207 yards — a healthy 9.9 yards a carry — and two touchdowns.
In a game that was never really in doubt for the Ducks all night, Freeman’s put the finishing touch on it with an 85 yard run near the end of the 3rd quarter that is sure to be a potential Heisman highlight down the road.
Oregon wideout Devon Allen, still fresh from running in the 110 meter hurdles at the Rio Olympic Games, also got into the highlight package with a 77-yard touchdown reception that he celebrated by, you guessed it, hurdling in the end zone. Quarterback Dakota Prukop finished the night with 288 yards and three scores through the air in his most complete game as a starter.
For Virginia, the cross-country flight home will be a long one in which they can ponder their 0-2 start. Bronco Mendenhall’s team did muster a few positives on offense late in the contest but will likely avoid any talk during defensive meetings next week.
Oregon will likely move up slightly in the polls given Saturday’s result to set up an interesting matchup at Nebraska in Week 3.