After falling to the Arizona Wildcats last Thursday, the No. 12 Oregon Ducks (5-1) regained the lost momentum by defeating the No. 18 UCLA Bruins (4-2) 42-30.
The score wasn’t as close as the 12-point spread indicated. Oregon dominated the game through three quarters and surrendered 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter after it took its collective foot off the gas pedal.
The victory against UCLA was vital with the heart of Oregon’s divisional schedule looming. The Ducks reemerged against the Bruins as the favorites in the Pac-12 North. Oregon controls its destiny with an opportunity to make an appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game and potentially be a part of the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Oregon’s remaining schedule against the Washington Huskies, Cal Golden Bears, Stanford Cardinal, Utah Utes, Colorado Buffaloes and Oregon State Beavers should be impressive enough to warrant national consideration as one of the nation’s Top 4 teams should the Ducks run the table.
The biggest difference in Oregon’s play during the past 10 days was improvement along the offensive line.
Senior left tackle Jake Fisher returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games due to a knee injury. His presence proved to be a massive addition to the Ducks’ offense.
Anyone else think Jake Fisher is making a difference? This is the best D-front Oregon has faced since Michigan State.
— Ted Miller (@TedMillerRK) October 11, 2014
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota wasn’t under undue pressure throughout the contest like he was during the previous two weeks. The Bruins didn’t register a sack, and it showed in the signal-caller’s play.
Mariota’s Heisman campaign is alive and well after contributing four touchdowns against the Bruins. The Ducks quarterback was 17-of-7 passing for 210 yards and 75 rushing yards.
Mariota’s second rushing touchdown was especially exciting after the ball was fumbled and the quarterback picked it up while slicing through the Bruins’ defense.
UCLA’s Brett Hundley, who was considered a preseason contender for the Heisman Trophy, proved to be nearly as effective as Mariota, but his team didn’t make the plays needed to stay in the game. Hundley threw for 216 yards and ran for 89 more. The Bruins, though, are now 1-2 in conference play and will require plenty of help to earn a possible berth is the Pac-12 Championship Game as the league’s representative from the South division.