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Oregon overcomes sluggish start, dispatches Wyoming for 48-14 win

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Marcus Mariota shined as Oregon completed its nonconference schedule with a win over the Cowboys.

Jonathan Ferrey

The Oregon Ducks took Wyoming's best punch, but Marcus Mariota and the Oregon offense overpowered the Wyoming Cowboys, earning a 48-14 win Saturday morning at Autzen Stadium.

While the final score tells the story of Oregon dominance, Wyoming did a lot of things well in this game, and that manifested itself with a 7-0 Cowboy lead at the end of the first quarter. Oregon seemingly was having little trouble with Wyoming, seeing them punt on their first possession. The Ducks took the ball and drove 78 yards in 13 plays. However, the Ducks had two chances on the three yard line, needing a yard and a half for the first down. Wyoming stuffed Byron Marshall on both plays, taking over on downs on the two yard line.

The Cowboys then went on an impressive touchdown drive to take the lead, driving all 98 yards down the field in 11 plays, taking 5:27 off the clock, and going 3/3 on third downs, converting on 3rd and 20, 3rd and 7, and 3rd and 8 on the drive. Much like we saw at the beginning of the Michigan State game, Oregon decided not to bring the pressure on third down, and Wyoming quarterback Colby Kirkegaard used the protection to carve up the Oregon secondary, and give the Cowboys the unexpected 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Oregon's offense, however, was unpanicked and undeterred. Marcus Mariota drove the Ducks easily down the field, the big plays coming on a 27-yard Marshall run, and and 18 yard pass to Darren Carrington. Mariota finished the drive himself, keeping a zone read to scamper 15-yards for the score.

Wyoming was quickly forced to punt, and it was again down the field for Oregon, a 30-yard Marshall touchdown run being the scoring play there. The next Cowboy drive led to Wyoming's first mistake, with Erick Dargan picking the first of two interceptions on the day, taking it down to the Oregon 35. Mariota followed with a touchdown run that you'll surely be seeing on SportsCenter tonight:


Wyoming had no trouble moving the ball for large parts of the game. The problem was that the Oregon defense was practicing its old bend but don't break philosophy. Kirkegaard marched the Cowboys right back down to the Oregon 19, only to see Dargan again foil the drive with an interception. Mariota effortlessly led Oregon back down the field, a 15-yard TD strike to Devon Allen giving the Ducks a commanding 27-7 lead at the half.

The Ducks would score two more unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter. The second of those touchdowns was a pass from Mariota to Johnathan Loyd. At that point, Mariota and the starters were done, Oregon holding the 41-7 lead.

Mariota finished 19-23 for 221 yards and two touchdowns, adding 71 yards on five carries and another two scores. Byron Marshall had 80 yards on only six carries, Thomas Tyner rushed for 58 yards on 11 carries, and Royce Freeman saw six carries for 28 yards. In all, ten Oregon runners saw a carry in this game. Jeff Lockie was 6/8 for 72 yards in mop up duty, and had a very Mariota-like 13 yard first down run.

Running back Shaun Wick had a game for Wyoming, with 122 yards on 16 carries, but the other backs weren't as effective, with Wyoming averaging only 3.8 ypc for the game. Kirkegaard had a career high 284 yards passing with the two TDs and two picks, but was sacked six times and was visibly hobbling by the end of the game.

The biggest concern coming out of this game for Oregon is the status of Jake Fisher. The offensive lineman left the game in the first quarter after sustaining what looked like a knee injury. While he walked off on his own power and was walking on the sideline, he soon left for the locker room on a cart and a big ice pack wrapped around his knee. Walk-on Matt Pierson was summoned to replace him. Considering Tyler Johnstone has already been lost for the season, and Andre Yrutagoyena appears to be out long-term, the Ducks can hardly afford more injuries on the offensive line.

Erick Dargan also left the game with an injury, but it did not appear to be as serious.

Other stories of note were that Charles Nelson, and not Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, was in for Oregon's lone punt return on the first possession of the game. Ian Wheeler nabbed a 50-yarder on his only punt.

The win ends the non-conference portion of the schedule for Oregon, who turn their attention to Washington State for the conference opener next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.