It was billed as the ‘Game of the Day’ across the college football landscape – and it certainly didn’t disappoint…..at least in the first half!
At the outset, the UCLA defense was everything it was headlined to be.
The Bruins, led by outside linebackers Miles Jack and Anthony Barr slowed the Oregon offense to a 14-14 tie going into the halftime break.
However, after the break, the No. 3 Ducks ( 8-0 / 5-0 ) scored 28 consecutive points and put a 42-14 mauling on No. 12 UCLA ( 5-2 / 2-2 ) in front of 59,206 fans at Autzen Stadium Saturday evening.
After taking the opening kickoff, ( and on the second play of the game ), Oregon once again gave up the football on a catch and fumble by wide receiver Keanon Lowe giving UCLA the ball on the Duck 38 yard line.
It was Oregon’s 3rd turnover in the first half in their last two games – and a turnover that led directly to points.
UCLA went on to score on a 7 play drive that ended with a 4 yard run by Bruin quarterback Brett Hundley.
After the miscue, the Ducks would go on to score twice before the break – a 1 yard TD run by De’Anthony Thomas and a 40 yard run by Byron Marshall.
Thomas returned to action against the Bruins rushing 10 times for 38 yards and his 1 score.
Thomas’ one yard run with 7:58 left in the 1st quarter was his 7th rushing TD of the year, and the first time Thomas has seen action since the Cal game on September 28th.
Thomas though, only played in the first half, and sat out the remainder of the game.
In the second half, the Ducks imposed their will on the Bruins defensive line scoring twice on Byron Marshall runs – his 3rd of the game, a 3 yard run with 8:47 to play in the game giving Oregon a commanding 35-14 lead.
Oregon would go on to score four times in the second half, 3 on the ground and one through the air.
Even more impressive was Oregon’s defense.
The Ducks held UCLA scoreless in the second half holding Bruin quarterback Brett Hundley to only 64 yards passing with 13 completions on 19 attempts.
“Sometimes you like to take a lot of credit for something you do at halftime, and people either think you do something really fancy or something unbelievable,” Aliotti said after the game.
“The magic is in the kids.”
Oregon’s defense also intercepted Hundley twice – one each by safety Avery Patterson and LB Boseko Lokombo.
“The bottom line is, when you’re in there you’ve got to go out there and make plays,” said Lokombo about his defensive effort.
“I’ve always been a playmaker, and I’ve always tried to bring energy to the team. As long as I’m doing that and we’re winning, I’m happy.”
At the break though, and sitting in an unfamiliar place tied at 14 apiece, Aliotti delivered a halftime message that seemed to change the game.
“We simply talked about that,… they had two scores on two short fields, and that we’re going to come out and dominate the second half” explained Aliotti
“And they listened.”
On the evening Byron Marshall carried the ball 19 times and rushed for 133 yards and scored 3 times.
It was Marshall’s fifth consecutive game rushing for more than 100 yards.
Marshall’s brightest moment of the game came early in the second quarter when on a zone read, he took a hand off from Marcus Mariota and bounced outside finding a seam 40 yards untouched to the end zone giving Oregon a 14-7 lead with 13:10 to play in the 2nd quarter.
Marshall also caught 1 pass for 23 yards.
“They’re front seven is top notch” said Marshall after the game.
“Against a team like that….to score 14 points in the first half and then blow up in the second half,…it’s exciting.”
GAME CHANGING MOMENT
With 4:48 remaining in the third quarter and the score still tied at 14, the Oregon defense held UCLA on a 3rd and 8 forcing the Bruins to punt from inside of their own 5 yard line.
After the punt, Oregon was able to get good field position at the Bruin 49 yard line.
From there, it only took 1:32 for the Ducks to find the end zone.
Oregon went on a 5 play – 49 yard drive that ended with an 11 yard run by Byron Marshall to push the Oregon lead to 21-14.
BIG PLAY OF THE GAME
With 9:21 remaining in the first quarter and on a 4th and 14 from their own 26 yard line, the Ducks called a gutsy fake punt which they converted.
On the play, the ball was snapped to up-man Rodney Hardrick who raced 66 yards up the middle to the UCLA 8 yard line.
The Ducks would go on to score on a 1 yard run by De’Anthony Thomas which tied the game at 7.
Marcus Mariota - 21 0f 28 for 230 yards and 1 score. * Mariota has now thrown 293 consecutive passes without an interception which continues to be a Pac-12 record.
Byron Marshall - 19 carries for 133 yards and 3 touchdowns. * This was the 5th consecutive game Marshall has rushed for over 100 yards.
Josh Huff - 6 receptions for 76 yards. * Huff needed 88 yards to tie Bob Newland for No. 10 on the Ducks career receiving list ( 1,941 )