You knew this matchup had the potential to be an offensive onslaught, but you probably didn't expect 100 combined points. That's just what happened on Friday night at Levi's Stadium as the No. 6 Oregon Ducks came out on top of a shootout in a 59-41 win over the California Golden Bears.
The two teams combined for 100 points, 1150 yards of offense, and 14 touchdowns. Friday night Pac-12 football is the best Pac-12 football. And the most drunk.
Marcus Mariota had another masterful performance, completing 18 of 30 passes for 326 yards and five touchdowns. However, he did throw his first pick of the year after 245 pass attempts.
Royce Freeman had another huge night with 22 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
Through the air, Byron Marshall continued to show his value as a weapon for Mariota with four catches for 133 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown catch. Dwayne Stanford also had a big night with six catches for 103 yards and two touchdown catches. Pharaoh Brown also hauled in a pair of touchdown passes.
It took just 68 seconds for a classic Pac-12 ref moment as Reggie Daniels was flagged for pass interference. The only problem was that the ball was thrown nowhere near the intended receiver. The call would cost the Ducks as Cal drove down the field, capping things off with a touchdown run from Luke Rubenzer. The term "quarterback" should be used lightly with Rubenzer as he’s primarily a running quarterback for Cal. Rubenzer took it in on the zone read to give Cal an early 7-0 lead.
Pac 12 refs 7, Oregon 0— Matt Daddy (@mattdaddysblog) October 25, 2014
Normally I don’t agree with blaming the officials for everything, but this drive should have never gotten to the end zone had the refs just made the right call.
Oregon wasted no time in striking right back as Marcus Mariota found Dwayne Stanford for the 22-yard touchdown pass. On the previous play, Mariota showed off his running abilities, scrambling all around the backfield before eventually breaking free for the first down.
On the drive, Mariota also took over the top spot on Oregon’s career passing list.
On Cal’s next drive, the Bears picked Oregon’s defense apart, moving downfield with ease. Luke Rubenzer continued to cause headaches, breaking off a 14-yard run. Two plays later, Vic Enwere found the end zone on a 19-yard touchdown run. In the first eight minutes, there were 21 combined points.
First one to 100 wins— Kevin Wade (@UO_Kwade) October 25, 2014
Once again, Oregon answered Cal’s punch with another touchdown as the shootout was on. The short drive was set up by Devon Allen’s 45-yard return to the Cal 46. After an 18-yard pass to Dwyane Stanford in which he got some extra yards after avoiding a tackle, Royce Freeman carried the ball three straight times to reach the end zone. I guess the defensive coordinators went to go watch the World Series instead.
14-14. Teams on pace for 176 combined points. I'm calling 95-81 Oregon— Aaron J. Fentress (@AaronJFentress) October 25, 2014
Then, the improbable happened. The two teams stopped each other on defense to end the first quarter. The Bears were essentially given a mulligan as a 17-yard punt from Ian Wheeler gave Cal the ball on Oregon’s 40-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Jared Goff fumbled the ball as he tried to throw it forward (the play would be reviewed and upheld) as Oregon took over on the Cal —. DEFENSE! Something that hadn’t showed up for much of a 1st quarter that saw 321 combined yards of offense.
Oregon would need to settle for a field goal as their drive stalled inside the 10. Did anyone catch that? Oregon made a field goal. All hail Aidan Schneider.
After being torched on the ground all night, the Ducks defense finally came up with a big stop against the run, shutting down Vic Enwere on 4th and 1 to force the turnover on downs.
The Ducks capitalized to take a 24-14 lead with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Pharaoh Brown in the back of the end zone, a play set up by a 24-yard run from Byron Marshall.
17 straight points for UO, the last 10 coming off short fields after fumble and failure on downs.— Vlad Belo (@GoldenBearVlad) October 25, 2014
After forcing a punt, Charles Nelson struck for his second punt return of the season, breaking just about every possible tackle on his way to the end zone. There’s something about special teams players at Oregon wearing No. 6. It’s like a cheat code. Just like that, the Ducks were suddenly up 31-14.
Cal desperately needed a score, and that’s exactly what Jared Goff delivered
The Bears then came up with a huge moementum-shifting play on defense, stripping ball loose from Royce Freeman. Michael Lowe took it all the way down to the Oregon The Bears would need four downs, but on a crucial 4th and 1, Daniel Lasco went over the top of everybody, flipping into the end zone. Did you blink? All of a sudden, it was a 3-point game.
Then, Hell froze over. On his 245th pass attempt of the season, Marcus Mariota threw his first interception of the season. Just like his first pick last season, it came on a bizarre tip drill.
For the second straight season, Marcus Mariota's first interception of the year is first tipped twice. Cal takes over trailing 31-28.— Rob Moseley (@DuckFootball) October 25, 2014
Fortunately for the Ducks, nothing would come of it. Before the half was up, Oregon would jump back out to a double digit lead as Mariota found Stanford in the end zone once again to give the Ducks a 38-28 lead at the half.
On Oregon's opening drive of the second half, the Ducks were hit with a 15-yard offensive pass interference penalty. Problem: 3rd and 21. Solution: 54-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Byron Marshall. To make things even more bizarre, it looked as if Cal had 12 men on the field. You should normally make a stop when you have an extra guy on defense.
After a missed 47-yard field goal by Cal, Oregon capitalized with a 10-play, 70-yard touchdown drive that featured some powerful running by Royce Freeman. This kid is a tank, and he’s only a freshmen. It’s just scary. Freeman capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to give Oregon a 52-28 lead.
Cal would answer right back, driving 79 yards in just three and a half minutes, proving they could move just as fast as Oregon’s offense. The drive was highlighted by an impressive 30-yard run by Daniel Lasco who showed some nasty juke moves.
Late in the third quarter, Royce Freeman broke the Oregon true freshman record for rushing yards in a single season. It was Freeman’s third straight 100-yard game.
After being forced to punt for the third straight drive, the Ducks caught a break that proved to be the nail in the coffin. A muffed return by Byrce Treggs gave Oregon the ball on the Cal 21. On the first play of their new drive, Mariota hit Pharaoh Brown for a 21-yard touchdown pass. At that point, Cal had enough.
Marcus also likes to play on the road against Cal.
Cal would add a garbage-time touchdown just to ensure the game hit 100 combined points.
After a short week, the Ducks get an extra day of rest before returning to Autzen Stadium next Saturday to face the Stanford Cardinal. The Ducks will be looking for their first win over the Cardinal since 2011. While the game won't be as hyped as it has been in recent years, it's still Stanford in November. Oregon needs to prove that is no longer their kryptonite.