The Oregon Ducks took on undefeated Liberty in the Fiesta Bowl to start off the New Year’s Day bowl games. The Ducks outgunned the Flames in every aspect of the game, and Liberty was as soundly defeated as they were expected to be.
Liberty won the toss and took the ball to start the game. On their first drive, Liberty was able to take advantage of an Oregon defense that was slow to wake up, and scored the game’s first points on a 17 yard touchdown throw from Kaidon Salter to Bentley Hanshaw.
FLAMES STRIKE FIRST!!! pic.twitter.com/pRczrQrwVH— Liberty Football (@LibertyFootball) January 1, 2024
The Flames failed the PAT and were up 6-0.
On Oregon’s first drive, the Ducks marched down the field, but after a 40 yard pass from Bo Nix to Tez Johnson the drive stalled and Oregon had to settle for a 37 yard FG from Camden Lewis.
On Liberty’s next possession they were only able to get to their own 37, and punted. The Ducks responded by going three-and-out and punted back to the Flames.
Liberty was only able to push to midfield and were forced to punt, and the Ducks started from their own 18 with 1:17 left in the first quarter.
It was at this time that Oregon woke up and decided to play some football.
In the second period, Liberty was only able to gain 50 yards. On the other hand, the Ducks scored four touchdowns and the rout was on.
Oregon was in complete command offensively, and the first TD was a 2 yard toss from Nix to Gary Bryant, Jr., and the Ducks took the lead 10-6.
After the Flames went three-and-out, Oregon started at their own 25 and methodically drove the field, capping the score with a two yard pass to Terrance Ferguson that was made possible by Bo Nix’s composure in a collapsing pocket.
Liberty went three-and-out again, setting the Ducks up for a 95 yard drive that was made possible by a 50 yard pass from Nix to GBJr. Bo Nix flicked a 3 yard pass to Kenyon Sadiq, and Oregon was up 24-6.
The Flames were able to drive into Oregon territory on their next drive, but that was cut short by a Steve Stephens IV interception.
With 1:12 left before halftime, the Ducks started on their own 32 and crossed mid-field with a 40-yard pass to Tez Johnson, setting up a 17-yard TD pass to Traeshon Holden with three seconds left before the break.
Oregon went into halftime having scored 31 unanswered points and were up 31-6.
The Ducks received to open up the third quarter, and offensively were able to run and pass as they pleased. Oregon took a 38-6 lead with a 24-yard TD pass from Nix to Johnson.
Liberty was able to get some yards in their first possession of the second half, but turned the ball over on downs at the Oregon 18.
The Ducks managed the clock well at this point, opting for a run-heavy game to chew up the clock. Their drive ate up the last 6:40 of the third quarter, ending the quarter with the score still 38-6.
A rushing touchdown by Bucky Irving at the outset of the 4th brought us to what would be the game’s final score, 45-6.
The rest of the game was bona fide garbage time. We saw the backups finish the game, including Austin Novosad, and Oregon kept Liberty off the board to preserve the final score.
Bo Nix finished the final game of his college career by going 28-35 for 363 yards and five touchdowns. Nix broke the NCAA single-season completion percentage record and Marcus Mariota’s Oregon single-season records for passing yards and touchdowns.
Bucky Irving was in great form and showed no signs of whatever may have been ailing him at the close of the season. Irving ran for 117 yards on 14 attempts. Jordan James ran for 63 yards on nine attempts.
Bo Nix spread the ball around and each of his touchdown throws went to a different receiver. Tez Johnson led the receivers with 11 catches for 172 yards and one TD. Traeshon Holden caught five for 69 yards and one TD, and Gary Bryant, Jr. caught four for 62 yards and one TD.
Jeff Bassa led a stingy Oregon defense with eight tackles. The Ducks limited Liberty to 294 total yards and no scores after their first possession.
The Oregon Ducks end 2023 with a 12-2 record, which is their sixth 12-win season in program history.
And just like that, the 2023 season is at an end for Oregon. You certainly can’t complain about the high note that this season ended on, and after the dust settles here we have spring ball to look forward to in a few months.