Ducks rout Colorado, 45-3
EUGENE — The Oregon defense's path of destruction went through Colorado on Friday, and the offense picked up speed as the Ducks destroyed the Buffaloes 45-3 at Autzen Stadium.
Although injuries happened to standout players Jacob Breeland, Jevon Holland and Troy Dye, it was an impressive night of football all around for the Ducks (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12), who now prepare for the three-game stretch that could go far toward their quest of winning the Pac-12 title.
Next Saturday, Oct. 19, it's a 12:30 p.m. game at Washington, and then it's Washington State at home and USC on the road.
But, who would argue that Oregon isn't prepared to take the next step after its dismantling of Colorado (3-3, 1-2)?
Justin Herbert threw two touchdown passes — giving him at least one in 34 consecutive games — and Cyrus Habibi-Likio scored on three TD runs as the Ducks fought off the Buffaloes early and then rolled.
The defense, led by coordinator Andy Avalos, held its fifth consecutive opponent under 10 points — for the first time since 1958 — and has now given up 25 points in the past five games. The Ducks picked off Steven Montez, who led the Buffs to victory at Autzen in 2016, four times. Verone McKinley III had two picks, including an interception late in the first half in the end zone that kept the score 17-3. The Ducks went the other way and scored a TD in the closing seconds of the first half to lead 24-3, and it was basically over.
"That gave us tremendous momentum," UO coach Mario Cristobal said.
But, Oregon didn't come out of it unscathed. Breeland, the senior tight end who caught a 7-yard TD pass from Herbert to open the scoring, went out with an injury in the first half. Then, later on the same play, the safety Holland and linebacker Dye went out injured; Dye returned briefly to the game. Madison High's MJ Cunningham played in Dye's absence.
Cristobal said there needs to be further medical assessment on Breeland, who was seen using crutches. He said that Holland and Dye injuries didn't appear to be as serious as Breeland's.
Oregon racked up 527 yards total offense. CJ Verdell, a week after leaving the Cal game with a sprained ankle, rushed for 171 yards on 14 carries as the Ducks ran for 252 yards. Herbert went 18 of 32 for 261 yards, throwing TDs to Breeland and Jaylon Redd. Redd also rushed for a short TD.
Montez was blanked in the TD department, and went 19 of 34 for 131 yards and four interceptions. The Buffaloes rushed for 168 yards, but it was inconsequential.
One of the only negatives for Oregon was its 10 penalties, including some pass interferences. But, Colorado had 14 penalties of its own.
"We felt they had a high-powered offense, and we didn't know what to expect. Tonight was going to be the biggest test (on defense)," Cristobal said. "You gotta affect the quarterback, and our guys did that."
Star receiver Laviska Shenault was held to four catches for 70 yards, as "(the Ducks) knew the caliber of player they were playing against, the challenge, and they looked forward to it," the coach added. "They play with a lot of confidence, and it's not false confidence."
On offense, "Justin made it a point of emphasis to take his preparation to another level. We were close to making some big plays (in previous games), and we saw them today."
In particular, Verdell led the way as the Ducks had their highest rushing total of the season, averaging 7 yards per carry. Verdell had a 70-yard run in the second half.
"We're building on what we did last week (vs. Cal)," Cristobal said. "It was designed well, called well and, most importantly, the guys up front blocked it well, and CJ saw it well."
Colorado was competitive for much of the first half, only to be thwarted by the UO defense.
A tidy nine-play, 75-yard drive on the first possession was finished by the Herbert-to-Breeland 7-yard TD pass play.
Oregon's skill players suffered some drops, including Verdell on fourth down on the next drive. The Buffaloes went 81 yards to score — but it was only three points, as the Ducks stopped the Buffs on third-and-6 at the UO 9.
Camden Lewis' 32-yard field goal put Oregon up 10-3.
Breeland, Herbert's favorite target, went down, but the QB led the Ducks to another touchdown. He threw 10 yards to Johnny Johnson III on third down and then Habibi-Likio scored on a 1-yard TD run.
Then came the hurtful UO defensive possession when Holland and Dye went out injured. But, the Ducks rallied, even as Colorado moved to the UO 1. The Buffaloes got called for holding on the next play, and then Montez's pass bounced off a player and into the arms of McKinley; it was ruled out of bounds, but overturned on review.
The Ducks marched 80 yards, getting 39 on a Herbert-to-Mycah Pittman pass, and then went ahead 24-3 on Redd's 3-yard TD run with 20 seconds left in the half.
Any thought of Colorado making a run at getting back into the game ended minutes into the third quarter. Bryson Young picked off Montez on a tipped pass and the Ducks scored on Herbert's TD pass to Redd. McKinley intercepted Montez, ran 53 yards the other way and Habibi-Likio's 3-yard TD run made it 38-3.
Then, Nick Pickett intercepted Montez in the end zone. And, the Buffaloes got to the UO 6 on the next drive, only to see tight end Jalen Harris receive a personal fall and get ejected. The Ducks stopped the Buffs on fourth down later. It was that kind of night for Colorado.
After Verdell's 70-yard run, Habibi-Likio's 1-yard TD run finished the scoring.
The offense got going, and the defense maintained its stellar play.
Said Cristobal: "During spring ball, you saw a complete transformation in the defense. And, the amount of pride taken by the players is the most impressive thing. These guys attack. So excited for what's to come."
COLORADO 3 0 0 0 — 3
OREGON 7 17 14 7 — 45
OREGON — Jacob Breeland 7 pass from Justin Herbert (Camden Lewis kick), 11:37
COLORADO — James Stefanou 27 FG, 2:46
OREGON — Lewis 32 FG, 14:10
OREGON — Cyrus Habibi-Likio 1 run (Lewis kick), 7:39
OREGON — Jaylon Redd 3 run (Lewis kick), 0:20
OREGON — Redd 13 pass from Herbert (Lewis kick), 12:54
OREGON — Habibi-Likio 3 run (Lewis kick), 10:40
OREGON — Habibi-Likio 1 run (Lewis kick), 14:36
A — 50,529
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