Oregon Ducks

Royce Freeman record watch 2017: Royce rolls for 150 vs. Southern Utah

EUGENE - The return of Oregon running back Royce Freeman gave the senior a second chance at becoming the Ducks' all-time leading rusher. 

Freeman entered the season with 4,146 career rushing yards and needing 937 to break LaMichael James' record of 5,082 (2009-2011). 

Freeman got off to a good start Saturday with 150 yards on the ground during a 77-21 win over Southern Utah at Autzen stadium.  However, he began strongly last season before injuries derailed his chances of breaking James' record in three seasons. 

Freeman began the 2016 season with 3,203 career yards after rushing for a program-record 1,838 in 2015. That figure broke James' single-season record of 1,805 set in 2011.

Freeman needed 1,880 yards in 2016 to break James' career mark. Freeman gained 294 over the first two games of the season before an injury all but ended his chances of breaking James' record. A sternum injury suffered against Washington sent Freeman on the worst stretch of his career and he finished the season with 945 yards.  

Many figured Freeman would enter the NFL Draft but new coach Willie Taggart convinced him to return for his senior season. 

Record, or no record, James should still be regarded as the greatest running back in program history after Freeman is done.  

James set his mark on 771 carries over three seasons while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Freeman will have needed four seasons and he's already carried the ball 726 times, gaining 5.9 yards per attempt. 

Freeman is also likely to break James' all-time rushing touchdown mark of 53. 

Here is the start of our weekly update on Freeman's record chase. 

RUSHING YARDAGE

James' record: 5,082 yards.

Last week: Freeman rushed for 150 yards on 23 carries and scored four touchdowns against Southern Utah. 

2017 total: See above. 

Career total: Freeman now has 4,296 yards rushing. 

Freeman needs: He is 787 yards away from breaking James' record. 

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS

James' record: 53.

Last week: Freeman scored four times on the ground.  

2017 total: See above. 

Career total: Freeman has 48 rushing touchdowns for his career. 

Freeman needs: He is six away from breaking James' record. 

Next up: The Ducks play host Nebraska (1-0) Saturday at Autzen Stadium. Freeman last season at Nebraska rushed for 31 yards on five carries before going down witth a foot injury and missing the next game at home against Colorado.