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Oregon vs. UCLA Recap: Ducks Restore "Normalcy," Take Down UCLA 42-30 in Pasadena

Jake Fisher's return on the offense line propelled Oregon to a rout of UCLA.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon was toast. The loss to Arizona proved that. The offensive line was among the worst in the nation. The defense was non-existent. The coaching staff should be on the hot seat and, should Oregon lose to UCLA, the season was over, with four or more losses being a near certainty. That was the narrative.

Somebody forgot to tell the Ducks.

We saw many changes in Oregon's 42-30 road victory over UCLA, but none were bigger than the change on the offensive line. Jake Fisher came back to play for the first time since the Wyoming game, and the metamorhpisis that his presence had on the offensive line was apparent all game. After being sacked 12 times over the past two games, Marcus Mariota was not touched today. Zero sacks for the UCLA defense. Meanwhile, Oregon put up 253 yards rushing, at well over six yards a carry, with Royce Freeman's 121 being the first time an Oregon rusher has gone for over a hundred all season. The transformation of the offensive line wasn't the only headline of the game, but it was the most important. And Fisher's return has the Ducks back in the business of hunting for a Pac-12 title heading into hate week.

1st Quarter

The change on the offensive line was apparent from the first possession, as the Ducks had runs of 12, 9, and 20 yards that were sprung by huge holes up front. Oregon marched down the field with ease, a reception to Devon Allen giving the Ducks a 3rd and 6 on UCLA's 27 yard line. It had looked like another first down as Pharaoh Brown hauled in a 16-yard pass, but the Ducks were flagged for PI on the pick play. That drove the Ducks back 15 yards and forced them to punt, giving the ball to UCLA on the 3-yard line.

That was as exciting as the game got for a couple of possessions. The Bruins got a first down before a punt of the own. Oregon did nothing and punted it right back. But it was UCLA's poor offensive line, and Don Pellum's decision to finally bring a little bit of pressure, that got the game going in the right direction for the Ducks. With UCLA facing a 2nd and 9 at their 37, Tony Washington got to Brett Hundley and sacked him at the 30. Hundley fumbled on the play, and the ball was knocked all the way back to the 13, where Oregon recovered. Mariota wasted no time, cashing in on the next play:

Oregon would convert a two-point conversion for the 8-0 lead.

2nd Quarter

It seemed as if UCLA would match Oregon touchdown for touchdown, as Hundley drove the Bruins back inside the Duck 5-yard line with ease. It was a lot of the same issues as we've seen for the Oregon defense, with a lot of easy runs and competions, with the added dimension of the Ducks losing completely lost in handling a mobile quarterback in Hundley, who had several runs right up the middle on pass plays with good coverage. On 3rd and goal on the four, Hundley had Devin Fuller wide open on a speedout route for what should have been an easy touchdown. However, Washington got a fingertip on the ball, causing Fuller to have to drop to his knee to make the catch rather than be led to the end zone. With fourth and goal on the 2, JIm Mora decided to kick a field goal, and the Ducks dodged a bullet and held an 8-3 lead.

The next Duck drive saw some very welcome developments. Oregon drove down to the Bruin 21 without a single completed pass. Two incompletions saw the Ducks facing 3rd and 10, when we saw something we haven't seen all year from the Ducks--a SCREEN PASS! A beautiful screen pass to Thomas Tyner, which went to the house for a touchdown. We saw some things we had been looking for out of the Duck offense for awhile, with many quick passes and a few bubble screen to help take the pressure off of Mariota's downfield passing. 15-3 Oregon, a lead that looked really big when UCLA missed a field goal on their next drive, which led to the Ducks again marching down the field with ease. It looked like the Oregon offense of old, and a 16-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Brown gave Oregon a commanding 21-3 lead.

It looked like Oregon would hold that lead to the half as, although Brett Hundley marched UCLA down to the Duck 16, he faced third and goal. Unfortunately, a theme of the night popped up, which was Hundley getting a huge scramble gain up the middle on a failed passing play. His TD with three second left gave the Bruins life, a 21-10 UO lead going into the half.

3rd Quarter

In a 3rd quarter reminiscent of days of yore, Oregon put it out of reach in the fourth. UCLA's first drive went nowhere, and Mariota was ready to strike. The Ducks marched 80-yards in three minutes, a perfect 5-5 mix of run and pass. The capper? As cool a touchdown play as you'll ever see:

That put the Ducks up 28-10. UCLA was on the drive again looking for answers. Instead, Hundley found Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who picked off his pass and took it to the 10-yard line. It took the Ducks all of two plays for Freeman to punch it in, and at 35-10, it looked like the rout was on.

4th Quarter

It really was a rout, a Freeman's second TD early in the fourth made it 42-10 Oregon. This is where the Ducks got really coservative, playing a prevent, allowing everything in front of them, and, with the help of an onside kick, allowing UCLA to put up three straight touchdowns to close the score to 42-30 and make it look somewhat respectable. It was frustrating to watch, and I don't really like the strategy, but whatever. It was a prevent, and that part of the game was responsible for a large chunk of UCLA's 553 yards but, again, whatever. The game was over.

The offense looks to be back on track, and Fisher's return is a huge boon to this team. The defense is still a work in progress, but they gave up ten points through three quarters, which you'll take every time. I do want to see them show they can handle a mobile QB better, and not allow the other team's running back to get almost nine yards a carry, but they finally got pressure and did sack Hundley five times. But if Oregon's offense can play like it did tonight, that won't matter against most teams.

Ultimately, Duck fans can exhale. They made it through a tricky game with the season goals intact. It is now Happy I Hate washington Week. Let the hate flow through you.