Oregon 42 - California 24
After a heartbreaking loss to Stanford, the Ducks responded well on the road against an undefeated top 25 opponent.
The No. 24 California Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1) were coming off a bye week and were game planning a way to limit the amount of time Justin Herbert had the ball, but the Ducks offense (485 yards of total offense) proved far too powerful for the previously unbeaten Cal defense and the Duck defense forced five turnovers.
Justin Herbert: 16/22 - 225 YDS - 2 TD
The Ducks once again showcased a deadly passing attack orchestrated by Justin Herbert. Cal’s vaunted linebacking corps failed to disrupt Herbert’s rhythm, and with the emergence of Dillon Mitchell as a go-to receiver, his accuracy is likely to remain high until he’s truly challenged by, most likely, an elite pass coverage unit. And those aren’t too popular here in the PAC-12.
Herbert also found some success on the ground. Near the end of the first quarter, Herbert extended a drive on 3rd & 7 by rushing for eight yards. Then, after California took the lead with a touchdown early in the second quarter, Herbert again extended a drive by running for nine yards when he needed eight.
On that same drive, which would end in a 45-yard Travis Dye touchdown, Herbert barreled his way to another first down, this time on 3rd & 2. Five of Herbert’s six carries took place in the first half, the other one took place in the fourth quarter, an 8-yard run that fell just short of extending Oregon’s clock-killing crusade with eight minutes left.
It’s safe to say that Cristobal values Herbert’s running ability, but is willing to sacrifice the offensive versatility of a mobile quarterback if it means protecting his star player amid a comfortable lead.
Dillon Mitchell: 7 rec - 105 YDS - 1 TD
Jaylon Redd: 1 rec - 33 YDS
Kano Dillon: 1 rec - 30 YDS - 1 TD
Brenden Schooler: 1 rec - 19 YDS
CJ Verdell: 3 rec - 18 YDS
Travis Dye: 1 rec - 11 YDS
Johnny Johnson III: 1 rec - 9 YDS
Ryan Bay: 1 rec - 0 YDS
Oregon’s first three games featured some mixed performances from their receiving corps, performances that included a disconcerting amount of dropped passes and blown routes, but Mitchell’s elite level of play has enabled other players to make big plays.
The drops appear to be in the past, and with the ball in Herbert’s hands everyone has the potential to gain a good chunk of yards as long as you’re in the right place and can catch a bullet. Oregon had eight different players catch a pass, which is average for them. If this unit can continue to improve, then Oregon should have at least a puncher’s chance against every team remaining on their schedule.
Travis Dye: 20 car - 115 YDS - 1 TD
CJ Verdell: 9 car - 106 YDS
Justin Herbert: 6 car - 31 YDS
Cyrus Habibi-Likio: 6 car - 12 YDS - 1 TD
Oregon finished with two 100-yard rushers and 260 yards of total rushing offense.
CJ Verdell did a fantastic job avenging last week’s blunder, amassing 106 yards on nine carries. His most impressive run of the game was the first offensive play of the second half and went for 74-yards, ending on the 1-yard line.
Travis Dye also turned in a workhorse performance with 115 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Tony Brooks-James rode the bench most of the time after a minor injury in the Stanford game (alongside tight end Jacob Breeland and Austin Faoliu), though the senior found the field on a couple of kick returns. The early season starter is expected to be back for Oregon’s big game in two weeks.
Cyrus Habibi-Likio fulfilled his short-yardage touchdown duty by scoring from the 1-yard line after Verdell’s long run. However, Habibi-Likio also saw his first touches away from the goal line in the second half, finishing with a career-high six carries.
Though Justin Wilcox has them rapidly improving, the California Golden Bears are not quite ready to be kings in the North.
Notable Golden Bears
Brandon McIlwain: 11/21 - 128 YDS - 1 TD - 2 INT - 15 car - 123 YDS - 1 TD
Chase Garbers: 4/9 - 44 YDS - 2 INT - 6 car - 24 YDS
Patrick Laird: 18 car - 92 YDS - 1 TD
Vic Wharton III: 6 rec - 68 YDS -
Kanawai Noa: 4 rec -46 YDS
Evan Weaver: 14 TOT - 1 TFL
Jordan Kunaszyk: 11 TOT - 1 TFL
Justin Wilcox and his California Golden Bears had an extra week to game plan for the Ducks. And on the opening possession, California marched down the field with a 15-play, 72-yard drive and drew first blood with a field goal.
After Herbert connected with Kano DIllon to retake the lead, redshirt freshman Chase Garbers threw a pic to immediately give the ball back to Oregon. But to Cal’s credit, the Ducks weren’t able to score off the turnover and were forced to punt.
Then Brandon McIlwain entered the game and seemingly surprised the Oregon defense by leading his team on a 90-yard drive that resulted in him turning in a 28-yard touchdown. It should definitely be noted that safety Haki Woods allowed this drive to continue by talking trash to a Cal player and earning an unsportmanlike on Cal’s 13-yard line after an incompletion on 3rd and 7.
Oregon scored the next 21 points to close out the half, including a Lamar Winston Jr. fumble recovery score. Cal’s offense never matched the success of their defense. Two potential game-changing opportunities took place in the third quarter. First when Dye fumbled on the Oregon 35, then the next opportunity was when Adam Stack missed a 41-yard field goal.
But the Golden Bears’ offense responded poorly to both drives; the first response ending in an interception and the other resulting in the video below, when Justin Wilcox elected to go for a touchdown on 4th & 1 instead of kicking the field goal and making it a two-score game.
Cal Passing: 16/31 - 186 YDS - 1 TD - 4 INT
Cal Rushing: 41 car - 241 YDS - 2 TD
Turnover Margin: ORE 1 - CAL 5
Oregon’s defense may have allowed 427 yards of offense, but their four interceptions snuffed out the Golden Bear’s chances at pulling the upset.
Ugochukwu Amadi was the defensive MVP and recorded two of the Ducks’ picks. The first came on the first play of the Golden Bears’ second drive, when he snatched Garbers’ pass. His second interception, against McIlwain, sealed the deal when he ran it in for six with three minutes left in the game. (As seen in the scoring video at the top of the page.)
Amadi’s pick gave the Ducks an eighteen point lead late in the fourth, so true freshman Jevon Holland’s interception six plays later with 31 seconds left was icing on the cake. This was Holland’s second pick of the night; his earlier pick was in the end zone and prevented the Golden Bears from capitalizing on Travis Dye’s fumble.
But Oregon’s forced fumble was the defensive highlight of the night, and gave the Ducks an 18-point lead going into the half. Austin Faoliu is one of a handful of starters that could’ve played but sat out to fully take advantage of the bye week. Drayton Carlberg was asked to fill his role and the video of his sack speaks volumes. Also, La’Mar Winston Jr has the highlight of his career with the 61-yard scoop and score.
Lastly, the Ducks played less disciplined than usual as far as penalties are concerned. Oregon had seven penalties for 72 yards, while Cal only had four for 30 yards. Though, to be fair, two of Oregon’s penalties where tactfully imposed delay of games calls to drain some clock in punting situations.
So, here we are, the Ducks are 4-1 and have a rare double-length Happy I Hate washington Week! Let’s pray for Cristobal’s biggest win yet! Sco Ducks!