Saturday, Sept. 11: Ducks 35, Buckeyes 28
Big picture: The Mario Cristobal project got a statement win, one that sets up Oregon as a legit national championship contender. Ducks' fans now become Buckeyes' fans. This win will resonate in Eugene for quite some time — not only for where it happened, but how. Oregon won the trenches. And, Oregon won without some of its biggest stars on defense. And the often bad-mouthed Pac-12 now has a couple of statement early-season wins.
Notable Numbers: Let's start where Oregon won the game: running the ball. The Ducks rushed for 269 yards and held the Buckeyes to 128. … Ohio State with freshman QB C.J. Stroud throwing to future NFL receivers led by Chris Olave (12 catches, 126 yards) put up 484 through the air for 612 yards of offense but had only one play of longer than 30 yards. CJ Verdell had a huge day, running for 161 yards and two touchdowns and adding a reciving touchdown. … QB Anthony Brown Jr. was 17 for 35 for 236 yards and two touchdowns. He found 11 receivers. Brown ran 10 times for 65 yards. … Oregon finished 8 for 16 on third down and converted its only fourth down; Ohio State was 6 of 15 on third down and 2 of 5 on fourth down. … Oregon won the turnover battle 1-0, with Vernone McKinley III making a game-clinching interception. The Ducks also were the cleaner team, getting flagged four times for 35 yards compared to the Buckeyes' eight penalties for 75 yards. … The Ducks are 1-9 all-time against the Buckeyes.
Reaction: This feels like a program-defining win for Cristobal's Ducks. For one thing, Oregon had the defensive depth to survive the absence of star Kayvon Thibodeaux and talented linebacker Justin Flowe on a list of significant defensive starters out. … The poise and resiliency Oregon showed can serve it well going forward. Road games at UCLA, Washington and Utah figure to offer tests, too. … Should DJ Johnson be the player of the week? The tight end's one catch went for 11 yards on a third-and-3 play with the Ducks trying to run out the clock. Johnson then delivered the game-clinching sack on the final play of the game, filling in for the short-handed defense. Oh, and he had key blocks on several important plays, including two touchdowns.
Mario Cristobal said: "A lot of guys were down. A lot of guys were hurt coming in. Guys that hadn't seen any action saw significant action and starts. Overall, just a really gutsy pretty explosive performance by our team."
Up next: Stony Brook at Oregon, 4:30 p.m. Sept. 18 (Pac-12 Network).
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