EUGENE, Oregon - Stanford ran through Oregon, 52-27, on Saturday from Autzen Stadium. The Ducks allowed 540 total yards to the Cardinal offense in the final home game of the 2016 season. With the loss, Oregon’s bowl streak is snapped after 11 years.
“We’ll find out who rises up,” head coach Mark Helfrich said in reference to playing without the possibility of a bowl appearance. “Find out what we’re made of.”
Christian McCaffrey and the Cardinal (7-3, 4-1) were too much for this Oregon football team. The 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up registered 135 yards on 17 carries. The healthy Stanford workhorse scored three times (7.9 YPC) in the first half.
Oregon’s Mark Helfrich was out-coached in all phases by David Shaw of Stanford. The Cardinal manipulated the game clock for 34:18 minutes on Saturday. Stanford’s defense produced four turnovers, compared to zero from Helfrich’s crew.
With the loss the Ducks drop to 1-6 in conference, 3-7 overall. For the time being, Oregon is in last place of the Pac-12 North behind Oregon State by half a game.
McCaffrey didn’t wait long to announce his presence with authority. The Stanford RB was a blur for 61 yards, minutes into the game. He placed Stanford ahead, 7-0, after their 46-second drive.
“I’ll take every bullet for them if their battling their face off,” said Helfrich. “Whether it’s behind the scenes, during practice, during the game or whatever it is. I’ll take all that stuff. That’s my job.”
Less than three minutes later, McCaffrey struck again with a 5-yard touchdown run. Royce Freeman’s mysterious Jekyll and Hyde season continued. His fumble enabled the Cardinal to amplify their lead, 14-0, midway through the first quarter.
“We need to play better on offense,” said Helfrich. “We need to play better on special teams. Has nothing to do with gross overall scheme.”
The onslaught continued when Stanford signal-caller Keller Chryst found his wide receiver for the second 61-yard Cardinal scoring play of the quarter. JJ Arcega-Whiteside was the main beneficiary, helping Stanford assume a 21-0 lead.
Oregon’s responses were few and far between. The usually efficient Justin Herbert had an uancharaterically inaccurate game. The true freshman from Eugene threw two interceptions on Saturday. Herbert completed 21 of 30 passes for 274 yards, and two TD’s.
“Obviously we need to play better on defense,” Helfrich emphasized. “There is no secret about that.”
Oregon finally answered back after 21 straight Stanford points. On 4th and 5, Herbert connected with Johnny Mundt for the 41-yard score. The tight end broke a tackle and took it the distance. The Ducks failed to score on their first four drives.
Nearing halftime, Freeman rumbled in for Oregon’s second score of the half. It was No. 21’s ninth touchdown of the season. Following the successful PAT, the Ducks trailed, 31-13. Freeman carried the ball 20 times for 111 yards vs Stanford.
“We have kind of challenged him (Freeman) the last few weeks,” said Helfrich. “Tony (Brooks-James) was going to start but we had an availability issue with him at the beginning of the game. Royce did seem to run better.”
The Stanford QB completed 13 of 18 passes for 189 yards, and two tallies in the first half. After passing for 60 total yards in a win last week vs Oregon State, Chryst tripled that in the first 30 minutes. For the game, he completed 19 of 26 passes for 258 yards, including three TD’s.
“There are a lot of teams that run the 3-4 (defense),” Helfrich mentioned in reference to having the wrong defensive system with his current players. “Teams that run a 4-3. A lot of them play great defense."
Stanford receivers were led by Arcega-Whiteside. The Cardinal sophomore inhaled four passes for 106 yards, and his first quarter score.
Charles Nelson caught a garbage time 42-yard 6-pointer from Herbert with 1:02 remanning in the game. Nelson finished his day with two catches for 59 yards.
Pharaoh Brown was the high man for Oregon receivers. The playmaking tight end concluded his afternoon with six catches for 93 yards.
Kani Benoit made an appearance. He rushed for 30 yards on six carries, including a 7-yard scoring plunge.
In injury news, running back Taj Griffin will miss the rest of the season.
The Ducks (3-7) travel to No. 15 Utah (8-2) for a brutal encounter in Salt Lake City. Last season, Utah annihilated then No. 13 Oregon at Autzen Stadium, 62-20. Rice-Eccles Stadium will be rocking next Saturday.
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