Oregon finally beat Stanford after seeing the Cardinal derail their National Title aspirations the two previous years. If winning wasn’t sweet enough, the Oregon Ducks put on a fantastic and dominant show led by none other than Heisman hopeful, Marcus Mariota. While Mariota assures everyone he isn’t focused on that Heisman goal, the rest of Duck Nation certainly is. After accumulating 258 passing yards, 92 rushing yards and a total of 4 Touchdowns (2 passing and 2 rushing), Mariota showed why he deserves to be the top candidate for the coveted award. More importantly however, he and the rest of the Ducks sealed a victory years in the making and can finally shake the Cardinal monkey off their back.
After the game, with lots of cheering heard coming from the locker room, the players and Coach Helfrich credited preparation and clicking on all “facets,” as helping them win against a very physical Stanford team. By far though, the main factors in the game were a good defensive game plan and healthy Marcus Mariota. Last year, Stanford was able to keep Mariota and the offense off of the field by handing the ball to Running Back, Tyler Gaffney, over. . .and over again, while methodically draining the clock. This year, Oregon’s Defense stepped up big and stopped a number of key plays, holding the Cardinal to 3 field goals and just 1Touchdown. All that defense allowed the Ducks Offense to do, well. . .what they do. With playmakers all over the field, Mariota found targets all night including Freshman stand-out, Royce Freeman and Red Shirt Freshman, Darren Carrington, all while putting on his own run game show. By halftime, Mariota was the leading rusher on the field and had scored a rushing touchdown. He was poised, daring and despite throwing his 2nd interception this year, he was his typical accurate self, finishing the game with a 62% pass completion percentage.
After the game, Mariota discussed the win and credited the team’s preparation and in particular, the offensive blocks, for helping the Ducks snag the win. “Again, I’m proud of those guys, they executed well,” Mariota said of his teammates.
As the team looks to its match-up against Utah next week, Mariota told reporters, “To get this win was huge and it will build a lot of momentum heading into the rest of the year.” He went on to say, “It’s good to kind of get one under your belt and bury the hatchet.”
With just 3 games left in regular season play, it’s hard not to sense that big things await around the corner. The Ducks still have to face, Utah, Colorado and Oregon State but all signs indicate Oregon now controls its own destiny as it sets its eyes on the inaugural College Football Playoff. The only downside? Ducks fans may have just one more chance to watch Mariota in Autzen Stadium. Though he says he hasn’t given it much thought, it is almost inevitable Mariota will declare for the NFL Draft this Spring, where he is expected to be a first round pick. Mariota didn’t say whether or not he believes this will be his last season as a Duck but he did address the one tiny criticism widely publicized this week when one scout questioned if he was simply “too nice” to lead an NFL team.
“That’s people’s opinions. I can’t really control that,” Mariota said. “When it’s all said and done, I believe my teammates will know who I am and play for me and that’s all you can really ask for.”
Something tells me most of those scouts already know they’re watching a leader any NFL team would be lucky to have.