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Ducks explode early to clobber Colorado


EUGENE — After destroying Colorado on Saturday in what turned out to be one of the biggest mismatches you might ever see, the Oregon Ducks are feeling primed and ready to venture to Los Angeles Coliseum to play USC.

They are 8-0 and clicking in all phases. They are fully aware of last year's 38-35 home loss to the Trojans, which knocked them out of the national championship picture. They know the Trojans possess some All-Americans weapons, especially quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Marqise Lee. And, they know that even though USC has lost twice, including Saturday's 39-36 setback at Arizona, the Trojans will be ready for the 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 game.

"We know Matt's on that team," defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti deadpanned.

"(Last year) was a hard one to swallow," added Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, who redshirted last season. "I wouldn't say it's a revenge game. But it's one that we're ready for. Like Coach (Chip) Kelly says, though, faceless opponent. It's another one."

Linebacker Michael Clay said he didn't allow himself to start thinking about USC while the Ducks dismantled Colorado.

"But, this week, it's USC. We'll look at USC," he said. "It's just another week, another opponent. Get ready for USC. You can't look forward (past them) or behind or look at their record. It's just another team in our way of being the best team, the Pac-12 champions, the best team west of Mississippi (River) and the whole country.

"It's been our Super Bowl each week for eight weeks. We've been lucky to play at the level we've been playing at."

That level was about 10 levels above Colorado on Saturday.

It was 56-0 at halftime, with Oregon scoring on seven offensive possessions and De'Anthony Thomas ripping off a highlight-reel, 73-yard punt return for another touchdown.

It was 70-14 at the end, and Oregon could have reached triple digits, if the Ducks wanted to completely stomp the Buffaloes into the Autzen Stadium turf.

The Ducks (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) came up a field goal short of breaking the single-game, modern-day points record (72 versus Nevada in 1999 and New Mexico in 2010).

The 70 points is the most Oregon has scored against a conference foe; the record had been 65 against Oregon State in 2008.

Kenjon Barner rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns on only nine carries, and had a 77-yard score called back because of a holding penalty.

Thomas, who had been held in check by the previous four Pac-12 teams, added 97 yards rushing and another score on a 9-yard TD run.

Mariota, replaced by Bryan Bennett late in the first half, went 10 of 14 passing for 136 yards and two touchdowns (Bralon Addison, Daryle Hawkins) and scored on 5-yard TD run.

The first of Bennett's three touchdown runs, a 6-yarder with 20 seconds left in the first half, made it 56-0, as the Ducks rushed for more than 300 yards (311) in the first half for the second consecutive week. After Colorado (1-7, 1-4) avoided a whitewashing with two third-quarter TDs, Bennett added TD runs of 3 and 17 yards in the second half.

The game wasn't without its bad news for the Ducks. Defensive end Dion Jordan left with an apparent shoulder injury. Offensive guard Mana Greig, who had started in front of hobbling Nick Cody, appeared to seriously injure his knee. And, starting linebacker Kiko Alonso, although dressed for warmups, sat out the game (wrist).

Kelly never talks about injuries. But he praised his guys for not looking past the Buffaloes.

"Great week of preparation. Right from the start, (they were) really focused," he said.

It was a perfect first-half performance, not unlike the season-opening game against Arkansas State (50-0 lead). Would Kelly watch film and find nothing wrong with UO's play?

"No. I'll find something," he said.

While Barner and Mariota had their usual starring roles, Thomas returned to the highlights. His punt return for paydirt was something to behold, a cutback and dash spectacle. If he returns to form, it certainly makes the Ducks more formidable heading to Los Angeles.

"It wasn't like we didn't try to get the ball in his hands," Kelly said, explaining Thomas' four-game, big-play drought. "He's been a play away, a guy away ... maybe we've gotten spoiled. He's been a part of our game plan."

"He's the kind of guy," Mariota added, "he just wants the team to do well."

The Ducks had 617 yards offense (425 rushing) and held Colorado to 245, including 104 in the first half. Running back Christian Powell was Colorado's lone standout with 121 yards rushing and both touchdowns, on 20 carries.

Mariota said the Ducks are clicking in all phases, offensively.

"We've done such a good job of preparing," he said. "It's really showing on the field. If we continue to do what we've been doing in practice, this next game should be a good one for us."

Clay said if the Ducks continue their stellar, fast and up-tempo play, "nobody can play with us. At some point, somebody will falter and wilt to the speed and pressure."

USC beat the Ducks last year, as Oregon missed a potential game-tying field-goal attempt (by Alejandro Maldonado) in the final moments. Barkley went 26 of 34 for 323 yards and four touchdowns. Lee had eight catches for 187 yards, and cohort Robert Woods caught seven passes for 53.

On Saturday, the Wildcats upset the Trojans 39-36, although Barkley went 31 of 49 for 493 yards and three touchdowns. Lee had 16 catches for 345 yards and two scores. The Trojans had 618 yards offense, but gave up 588 yards and 39 points to the same team the Ducks shut out 49-0 and allowed only 332 yards. USC had five turnovers and 13 penalties for 117 yards against Arizona. Could depth issues, as a result of NCAA sanctions, be catching up with the Trojans?

The Trojans fell to 6-2 overall and 4-2 in Pac-12 play, and out of the national championship picture with losses to Stanford and Arizona. But they'll want to upset the Ducks, if for nothing else than to try to regain some Pac-12 dominance, and it's still feasible to see the two teams square off in the Pac-12 championship game.

Then again, the Ducks still have to face Cal on the road (Nov. 10), Stanford at home (Nov. 17) and Oregon State in Corvallis (Nov. 24).

COLORADO 0,0,14,0,14

OREGON 28,28,14,0,70

OREGON: 1st, 13:13, Kenjon Barner 1 run (Rob Beard kick)

OREGON: 1st, 12:28, De'Anthony Thomas 9 run (Beard kick)

OREGON: 1st, 6:56, Marcus Mariota 5 run (Beard kick)

OREGON: 1st, 1:44, Bralon Addison 16 pass from Mariota (Beard kick)

OREGON: 2nd, 12:36, Barner 24 run (Beard kick)

OREGON: 2nd, 11:06, Thomas 73 punt return (Beard kick)

OREGON: 2nd, 6:16, Daryle Hawkins 7 pass from Mariota (Beard kick)

OREGON: 2nd, 0:20, Bryan Bennett 6 run (Beard kick)

COLORADO: 3rd, 9:41, Christian Powell 1 run (Will Oliver kick)

COLORADO: 3rd, 8:02, Powell 20 run (Oliver kick)

OREGON: 3rd, 3:55, Bennett 3 run (Beard kick)

OREGON: 3rd, 1:00, Bennett 17 run (Beard kick)