Ducks give Beavers 49-21 drubbing, clinch berth in Pac-12 title game
EUGENE - After a relatively rough start, which included three missed fourth-down conversions, Oregon easily dispatched of rival Oregon State 49-21 Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
The Ducks will now prepare for the first-ever Pac-12 championship game.
"Great group," said coach Chip Kelly, whose team had 670 yards offense on an astounding, school record-tying 102 plays and held OSU to 315 yards, forced three turnovers and sacked QB Sean Mannion six times.
"They deserve to play one more game. Now, we gotta go to work."
Added Kenjon Barner: "Just another game, one more team to defeat."
The North Division-champion Ducks (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) will face the South's UCLA, 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2 at Autzen Stadium. The two teams did not meet this year; last season, it was Oregon winning 60-13 at Autzen in an absolute domination of coach Rick Neuheisel's team.
The winner goes to the Rose Bowl. Overconfident? No, said the Ducks.
"What's going on right now is totally irrelevant to what went on last year," offered LaMichael James, who had 142 yards rushing and became UO's all-time leading scorer, passing former kicker Jared Siegel (324 points and counting). "You look around college football, and a lot of teams get beat."
Oregon State entered the Civil War game as four-touchdown underdogs. And, it was 7-7 early in the second quarter.
But Oregon got things rolling to the tune of 35 unanswered points, as QB Darron Thomas threw three of his four TD passes in the second quarter to open up the game and the Ducks won for the fourth consecutive time against the Beavers (3-9, 3-6).
"Oregon is a very sound and fundamental football team," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "Speed - they are a very quick and athletic team and they proved that to us today."
The fun was spread around: Thomas went 27 of 40 for 305 yards and four scores; De'Anthony Thomas had another huge all-purpose game (197 yards - including 86 receiving on 10 catches); tight end David Paulson had eight catches for a career-high 105 yards, Barner scored two touchdowns and James topped 100 yards and had the game's first score, a 1-yard TD run after Michael Clay intercepted Mannion on the first possession.
"We got the ball out to guys in space to open up the run game," said Darron Thomas, referring to the Ducks' 365 ground yards.
Mannion finished 27 of 44 for 299 yards and three scores. But the Ducks had him under control all day. Defensive ends Terrell Turner and Dion Jordan had two sacks each, and Kiko Alonso joined Clay with interceptions.
"If he would have got comfortable, he would have been throwing passes all day," Turner said.
"I thought our defense played outstanding," Kelly added. The Beavers had only 16 net yards rushing on 21 attempts, counting the six sacks.
The Ducks had a scary moment. James would later suffer an injured left elbow, with the Ducks safely ahead; he suffered a dislocated right elbow against Cal on Oct. 6 and missed two games. "Landed on it wrong," he said. "I could have played. Precautionary. Got to rest up a little bit."
Clay got the momentum in UO's favor quickly, setting up the first score.
"We showed him a disguise," Clay said, of Mannion, "and he threw it right to me."
After the initial score, the Ducks would sputter for the rest of the first quarter and into the second - failing on three fourth-down tries in OSU territory.
"We stopped them on three straight fourth-down conversion attempts, we made good plays and that was a critical part for our defense in the beginning," Riley said. "Unfortunately for us we had no offensive response today."
Mannion served up another interception, by Alonso, and the Ducks couldn't take advantage.
"Definitely some frustration there," said Barner, who added 64 yards rushing.
Oregon State tied the score at 7-7 when Mannion stepped up in the pocket and dumped a pass off to running back Jovan Stevenson, who ran to finish the 58-yard TD play. "Dropped coverage," Kelly called it.
"We wasn't nervous at all," De'Anthony Thomas said.
The Ducks responded. QB Thomas hit on a couple of passes, De'Anthony Thomas had a spinning 19-yard run, and Paulson capped the drive with a 16-yard TD reception, and UO led 14-7.
The Beavers punted and the Ducks scored again. James ran for 39 yards and, later, it was Thomas to Thomas on an 8-yard TD pass play.
Last week, the Ducks fell down on opportunities to score at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second against USC - as James fumbled and Jackson Rice had his punt blocked.
The same didn't happen Saturday. In the waning moments of the first half, Darron Thomas took to the air for five completions, one on a terrific 31-yard grab by Paulson with two OSU defenders on him. Thomas threw a 16-yard TD pass to Barner with 26 seconds left in the half, and UO led 28-7 at halftime.
The Ducks drove for a 35-7 lead on their first possession of the second half, Barner scoring on a 1-yard run.
Oregon moved to add to the lead, but James hurt his elbow and OSU stopped the Ducks on fourth down near the goal line.
Thomas' fourth TD pass went to freshman tight end Colt Lyerla, 39 yards, in the third quarter.
The Beavers got on the board twice in the final 6:55 against Oregon reserves.
First, Mannion's passing led OSU 60 yards in seven plays, with Kevin Cummings catching the TD pass of 19 yards.
Oregon responded by marching 48 yards in five plays for its final TD, which came on a 6-yard run by Adele Forde after a Mannion lost fumble.
OSU had one more drive in it. The Beavers took six plays to go 85 yards. Mannion found Brandin Cooks in the end zone for a 23-yard score with 2:46 left.
OREGON STATE 0 7 0 14 -- 21
OREGON 7 21 7 14 -- 49
OREGON -- 1st, 12:36: LaMichael James 1 run (Alejandro Maldonado kick)
OSU -- 2nd, 11:08: Jovan Stevenson 58 pass from Sean Mannion (Trevor Romaine kick)
OREGON -- 2nd, 8:05: David Paulson 16 pass from Darron Thomas ((Maldonado kick)
OREGON -- 2nd, 3:59: De'Anthony Thomas 8 pass from Thomas (Maldonado kick)
OREGON -- 2nd, 0:26: Kenjon Barner 16 pass from Thomas (Maldonado kick)
OREGON -- 3rd, 12:54: Barner 1 run (Maldonado kick)
OREGON -- 4th, 13:43: Colt Lyerla 39 pass from Thomas (Maldonado kick)
OSU -- 4th, 6:55: Kevin Cummings 19 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick)
OREGON -- 4th, 4:43: Ayele Forde 6 run (Maldonado kick)
OSU -- 4th, 2:46: Brandin Cooks 23 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick)