The ( 10-0 / 7-0 ) Oregon Ducks remained undefeated Saturday night by battering the ( 3-8 / 2-6 ) California Bears in Berkeley by a score of 59-17.
What began as a difficult and physical challenge between the Ducks and Bears at Memorial Stadium, turned into a runaway once Oregon found its offensive rhythm.
The win though, came at a cost as the Ducks sustained injuries to several of their starters including free safety Avery Patterson, RB Kenjon Barner, DE Taylor Hart and QB Marcus Mariota.
Early on, at the 1:45 mark of the first quarter, Barner took an inside hand off into the Cal defensive line and came out holding his right wrist. Barner would leave the game, but later returned to the sideline with a heavily taped wrist.
Barner would eventually return to the game early in the second quarter.
Late in the first quarter with just :06 seconds remaining, Patterson made an awkward cut to make a tackle and slumped to the ground with an injured left knee.
Patterson was attended to on the field by the Oregon training staff, however he was able to walk to the sideline under his own power. Moments after leaving the field though, Patterson was seen in tears walking to the visitors locker room with what looked to be a season ending injury.
Patterson would later return to the sideline in street clothes and on crutches.
Then, midway through the 2nd quarter, Oregon QB Marcus Mariota sprinted up the middle on a quarterback keep and tumbled hard onto his left shoulder just 3 yards shy of the end zone.
Mariota would leave the game at the 7:21 mark of the 2nd quarter with what looked to be a serious shoulder injury. Back-up Bryan Bennett would come into the game to spell Mariota.
After trainers spent time with Mariota on the sideline, the freshman QB returned to the game with just 90 seconds remaining before the half. Mariota picked exactly where he left off and led the Ducks on a momentum swinging 8 play – 69 yard drive that ended with Mariota throwing a 10 yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Josh Huff giving the Ducks a 24-10 lead going into the break.
“I’ll be good” Mariota said in his post game press briefing. “As the season progresses, everyone gets bumps and bruises. That’s just something I gotta deal with.”
Like they did in 2010, the Bears played inspired football in the first half completely shutting down the Oregon run game. In all, Oregon would rush for just 180 yards – 160 shy of their per game average.
The game turned though in the second half. Although, Cal scored first on a 4 yard TD run by Isi Sofele to close the gap to 24-17, the Ducks would go on to outscore Cal 35-7.
Cal would go on to out rush the Ducks 236 to 180. Through the air though, Oregon and Mariota dominated. Oregon passed for 395 yards, while Cal and their back-up quarterback Allen Bridgford could only muster 113 yards.
Defensively, Oregon once again struggled allowing gaping wholes in the interior line.
Although, the Ducks played without starters Dion Jordan, Isaac Remington, Wade Keliikipi and Taylor Hart, they were able to force Cal into three turnovers – two of those interceptions by LB Boseko Lokombo and safety Brian Jackson.
“I’m real proud of our guys. We played a lot of guys today — had to play a lot of guys today,” said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly after the game. “We really got tested with (injuries), and our guys really did a nice job. I can’t say enough about what that young defensive line did.”
After a sluggish start and overcoming a shoulder injury, freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota turned into “Super-Mariota” and carried the Ducks to another impressive win.
Mariota threw 6 touchdown passes which tied a single game school record held by former Duck Joey Harrington set against Arizona State in 2001.
Once again, Mariota was flawless through the air. The young quarterback was 27 of 34 for 377 yards and 6 touchdowns. Mariota also had 6 carries for 42 yards.
Although the Ducks didn’t have a stellar night on the ground, they did have an extremely productive night through the air.
Oregon receivers Josh Huff and De’Anthony Thomas both had 100 yard receiving games. Huff caught 5 passes for 109 yards and 3 touchdowns. While Thomas led all Duck receivers with 8 catches for 101 yards.
On the ground, Kenjon Barner once again led the Ducks in rushing, although his numbers were Un-Heisman like. Barner carried the ball 20 times for just 65 yards and wasn’t able to find the end zone.
Credit certainly has to be given to the Cal defense for keeping Barner in check and keeping the Ducks well below their per game rushing average of 340 yards.
50 GAME MARK
With Saturday’s 59-17 win over California, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly has now coached 50 games in his 4 year coaching career.
Of those 50 games, Kelly has notched 44 wins. In conference play, Kelly is 32-2 with his last loss coming against USC last year in Autzen Stadium.
Oregon has now scored 40 points or more in 13 consecutive games which sets an NCAA record. The Ducks shared that record with Texas at 12 consecutive games. The Longhorns did it in 2004-2005.
Oregon has also won 13 consecutive games which is now the longest winning streak in the country. The 13 consecutive wins is also a school record. The previous Oregon record was 12 wins which the Ducks did back in 2010.
Oregon - 575
California – 349