It was an emotional night at Autzen to say the least. Not only was it senior night, which celebrated one of the most successful senior classes in Oregon Ducks history, but it was also likely the last time Heisman front-runner, Marcus Mariota would ever play at Autzen. For seniors like myself, it marked the final time we would attend a home game as students. It was just a tear jerker of an afternoon all around.
Despite the sentimental nature of the game, it still had to be played, and not only was a win of utmost importance, but avoiding injuries was also a goal. Their opponent, Colorado didn't provide the sexiest matchup to get excited about, but nonetheless, it was still a pretty damn exciting game. Let's get to it.
Oregon won the toss and elected to receive. In a act of trickery, Colorado on-side kicked and got the ball back. Despite the muffed on-side return, Oregon's D was stout on a 3 and out. After a Buffalo's punt, Devon Allen ran for a 20 yard gain off of a reverse into Colorado territory. After a crucial 8-yard run by Mariota on third down, Oregon converted on a 4th down on a pass to Devon Allen. Royce Freeman topped of the drive with a 20-yard TD run.
Oregon's drive: 68-yards on 8 plays. 2:18 long. 6-0 Ducks early in the first.
Colorado answered with a long drive. But Joe Walker came up with a huge sock for a loss on third down to set up a Colorado field goal. The 46-yard attempt went far right and Oregon took over at their 29-yard line. The drive ended in a Mariota sack and an Ian Wheeler 41-yard punt to pin Colorado at their 10-yard line.
Oregon's D was once again solid and forced a three and out. The punt provided Oregon with great field position at their own 46. After a Byron Marshall carry, Mariota ran it in for a 46-yard touchdown.
Oregon's drive: 54 yards on 3 plays. 13-0 Oregon at the end of the first quarter.
Early in the first quarter Mariota became the 5th player in FBS history with 9000 passing yards and 2000 rushing yards in his career.
The Ducks forced another 3 and out on the ensuing possession. After a 62-yard punt, Oregon started the drive on their own 6-yard line. Royce Freeman ran in his 2nd touchdown.
Oregon's drive: 94-yards on 11 plays, and 3:14 long.
Colorado answered with a drive that eventually ended in a field goal to put them on the board, 20-3. The Buffalo's proceeded to attempt another on-side kick. This time, Oregon recovered, and with great field position at their 44. The drive ended with a TD pass from Mariota to Charles Nelson to make it 27-3.
Oregon's drive: 56 yards on 4 plays.
Colorado failed once again to put points on the board and gave the ball back to the Ducks with plenty of time to add to their lead before the half. The highlight of the possession came when Darren Carrington provided a SC Top 10 catch to extend the drive.
Oregon's drive: 63 yards on 11 plays.
The half ended 30-3.
Oregon stopped the Buffalo's on the first drive of the third quarter. The Ducks then marched down to Colorado's 4-yard line but failed to convert on 4th down, leaving them pointless on the drive.
Oregon took over near the 40. The drive ended when Mariota threw a 15-yard completion to Evan Baylis, which was the first touchdown of his career.
Oregon's drive: 60 yards on 6 plays. The made PAT made it 37-3.
With the TD pass to Baylis, Mariota tied Matt Barkley for Pac-12 touchdown passes in a season with 41. I forget how much of a stud Barkley was in college.
Colorado was able to get their first TD of the night late in the third quarter. The drive went 55 yards on 11 plays capped off with a 5-yard TD pass to Donovan Lee.
Despite the outcome being safe in the favor of Oregon, the Ducks offense didn't let up. Following the Colorado TD, Oregon answered with a 14-yard Mariota to Charles Nelson touchdown pass.
Oregon's drive: 65 yard drive on 5 plays.
With that touchdown, Mariota broke Matt Barkley's single season Pac-12 touchdown pass record. Poor Matthew. His illustrious college career couldn't prevent him from backing up the SANCHIZE in Philly.
It was 44-10 at the end of the third. On the first play of the 4th quarter, DeForest Buckner went down and my heart stopped. I don't have the slightest clue as to what happened or if it's severe at all. But it was at least uplifting seeing him able to walk off the field on his own.
Early in the 4th Jeff Lockie replaced Marcus Mariota, and all of Autzen stood up and applauded their Heisman candidate and likely the greatest quarterback in the program's history in his last game at Autzen Stadium. The Mariota chant that followed was pretty special to hear. Although much of the spotlight was on Marcus tonight, Royce Freeman managed to deliver an impressive record of his own. Freeman became the first freshmen in Oregon history to rush for 1000 yards in a single season.
Garbage time was rather uneventful as the score remained untouched. The final score: 44-10, Oregon.
I was fortunate to sit by the Chicago Bears scout. When I asked him who he was looking at in particular, he said "your quarterback" with a laugh. I would actually enjoy seeing Chicago trade everything to move up and draft Marcus just so I could see a pouty Jay Cutler on the sidelines in a crisp clean uni. He then said essentially that he liked a number of Oregon's players and that this game was just wrapping things up since he saw a number of Duck games this season. One thing he told me that stood out was when he said every one of the starting seniors would be in fall camp next year (referring to the NFL).
Mark Helfrich: "I want to score 1000 points every game." Loved that quote. Ifo also added some good input when asked about advice for the younger guys. He said, "It's goes by fast. I remember my first game here, and now I just played my last." When asked about his emotions surrounding his last home game, Marcus Mariota responded, "It was truly special. I can't thank the fans enough." When asked about his conference passing record, he replied, "I couldn't have done it without all those guys in the locker room." But he also said, "It's a number. I'm sure a guy a few years from now will break it." Mariota was asked what was going through his head sitting on the sideline for the last quarter. He said he was taking mental pictures of the student section and that he enjoyed being a part of the "shout." He admitted he came close to crying today. "Autzen's such a special place," he said. Mariota's best bit came when talking about when he ran off the field and hugged Jeff Lockie.He told the backup QB, "you gotta enjoy every one of these."