Oregon Ducks

Only one thing could make Oregon's season a success

Only one thing could make Oregon's season a success

Oregon throttled Oregon State on Friday at Reser Stadium like the Beavers had stolen something and the only thought that came to mind was - so?

Win the upcoming bowl game. That's the only obstacle standing between Oregon and a what could be considered a successful season. Lose it and 2018 will be remembered as a big pile of disappointment with one oddly out-of-place moment of glory hidden in the middle. 

Saturday's 55-15 shellacking at Reser Stadium was never close, never interesting and instantly forgetful. The unfair contest only further defined just how much work remains for OSU coach Jonathan Smith to elevate the Beavers (2-10, 1-8 Pac-12) to respectability, a level the program hasn't experienced since the 2013 season when Oregon State went 7-6 and ended the year with a 38-23 victory over Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl.

That victory over the coach Chris Petersen-led Broncos put a happy face on an otherwise disappointing season for OSU, which had started the year 6-1 after having gone 9-4 the year before. 

That brings us back to the Ducks. They began this season 5-1 with a win over Washington that catapulted the Ducks to No. 12 in the nation and sparked hopes of a run at a conference championship. Then, reality sent in. The Ducks lost three of their next five games before landing in Corvallis to face the hapless Beavers. The win there brought the Ducks to 8-4 and 5-4 in conference. It's an improvement over last year's 7-5 regular season, sort of.  But only if we choose to forget that the Ducks went 1-4 in five games missed by quarterback Justin Herbert. 

In the end, the swagged out 2017 season that initially held promise went up in flames with Herbert's broken collarbone, coach Willie Taggart jetting off to Florida State and the Ducks losing badly to Boise State - sensing a theme - in the Las Vegas Bowl. 

No matter what Oregon's record states, this season -  which included a hideous non-conference field - was a regression under first-year coach Mario Cristobal. Heaven forbid that Herbert heads to the NFL because next season would have 5-7 written all over it.

Slap a bowl game loss onto the end of this season and the 2018 campaign would be be a real downer. 

This is not to say that Oregon shouldn't celebrate defeating its in-state rival. That's always important. That said, defeating the current version of the Beavers is next to meaningless when it comes to searching for a measuring stick. 

What happens next will tell everyone much more about the state of the Ducks' program. The bowl game opponent will certainly provide Oregon a shot at its second best victory of the season. 

Of the team's eight victories this year, only three have come against teams with winning records heading into Saturday's action: Washington (9-3, 7-2), California (6-5, 3-4) and Arizona State (6-5, 4-4). 

The other five wins came against teams (UCLA, San Jose State, Bowling Green, Portland State and OSU) that have a combined record of 13-44 with PSU (41-7) leading the way with four wins.

That's an ugly list. But a bowl victory would certainly dress up the season quite nicely. 

OSU's last bowl victory, as stated before, came following the 2013 season. Oregon's came only a year later, in the Rose Bowl/College Football Playoffs over Florida State. 

That was a whole two coaches ago. Last year was the first time Oregon had gone two years without a bowl game victory since losing the Rose Bowl following the 2009 season and then the national title game at the end of the 2010 season. No comparison, of course. The last time Oregon went three consecutive years without a bowl win was when the Ducks went through a five-year dry spell from 2003 through 2006. 

That run led to the greatest run of success in program history starting with the 2007 season. 

Maybe Cristobal and Oregon could start their own run at greatness with a bowl victory in December. Only such a win would make the 2018 season worth remembering.

Oregon Ducks use big second half to blow out Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

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goducks.com

Oregon Ducks use big second half to blow out Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

A day after the Oregon Ducks football team clinched a berth to the Rose Bowl, the men’s basketball team was in a action 

After lackluster first half, the Oregon Ducks used a big second half to capture an 89-64 win over Hawaii Saturday night at Matthew Night Arena. 

Oregon's win snapped Hawaii's five-game winning streak in the series. The Ducks last defeated the Rainbow Warriors on Feb. 1, 1975. 

The Ducks were fueled by freshman C.J. Walker, who scored 18 points in place of an injured Shakur Juiston and a double-double performance from Payton Pritchard. 

Prtichard finished with 20 points and 11 assists in the win.

Tied at halftime, Oregon opened the second half on a 20-1 run and then a 12-0 run late to pull away from Hawaii. 

Walker's 18 points gave him a season-high for the third time in the last four games.

The Ducks will play at No. 4 Michigan next Saturday.

Who will be Oregon's opponent in the Rose Bowl? Here's the scenarios...

Who will be Oregon's opponent in the Rose Bowl? Here's the scenarios...

The Oregon Ducks are Rose Bowl bound. That much is clear. 

Ticket punched. Boom. 

Now, who will Oregon play? Minnesota? Penn State? Wisconsin? A team not in the Big 10?

The answer to that is a little more complicated.

Here’s a quick explanation and possible scenarios… 

The Rose Bowl Game is contractually obligated to feature the Pac-12 Conference Champion and the Big Ten Conference Champion.

However, the Ohio State Buckeyes, a Big 10 team, is currently undefeated, sits atop the College Football Playoff rankings and a 16-point favorite to win Saturday night’s Big 10 Championship vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (10-2).

Unless the Badgers pull off a colossal upset, the Buckeyes will be headed to the College Football semifinals, leaving the Big 10’s spot in the Rose Bowl open.

The Tournament of Roses website explains what happens in a scenario like this:

Should a team from the Big Ten or Pac-12 be selected to go to the College Football Playoff, the Tournament of Roses will traditionally select the next-highest CFP-ranked team from that conference.

The Tournament of Roses may only select a team from its partner conferences.

This rules out anyone from a different conference facing the Ducks on New Years Day. During the BCS era, an at-large team was able to play in the Rose Bowl. That is no longer an option. 

So, that leaves Penn State, Wisconsin and even Minnesota as possible candidates.

If Ohio State does as expected, they will not only advance to the CFB playoff, but hand Wisconsin its third loss of the season. 

The No. 8 Badgers’ ranking would drop and Penn State, current No. 10 in the CFB ranking, would slide up and surpass Wisconsin. 

There is, however, a caveat to that clause in the Rose Bowl contract.

“If the next-highest ranked team is in a ‘cluster’ of teams, meaning there is another team or teams from the same conference ranked within several spots of each other, the Tournament of Roses will select the team from that cluster that will result in the best possible matchup for the Rose Bowl Game,” said Rose Bowl Management Committee Chair Scott Jenkins.

So, even in a loss, Wisconsin could go to the Rose Bowl. Penn State appears to be in an ideal spot, having lost just two games this season, one of which was to Ohio State. Minnesota, whose last appearance in Pasadena came in 1962, is on the outside looking in. The Golden Gophers lost to Wisconsin 38-17 on November 30th and currently rank 18th. There’s a path, it just seems as if it’s a steep and rocky terrain to get there. 

We’ll see how the Big 10 Championship shakes out, but Oregon fans should be prepared for an Oregon-Penn State Rose Bowl match-up on New Year’s Day. 

One person who is probably looking forward to that possibility: Ducks wide receiver Juwan Johnson, who transferred to Oregon from Penn State this season.

Oregon Ducks celebrate PAC-12 title, Rose Bowl berth

Oregon Ducks celebrate PAC-12 title, Rose Bowl berth

The Ducks are Rose Bowl bound! After Oregon took down Utah 37-15, the celebration was on!

The celebrations carried from the field to the locker room, and we compiled players and coaches social media posts in one place:

See you in Pasadena!

Budding Oregon football star Kayvon Thibodeaux already breaking records with no ceiling in sight

Budding Oregon football star Kayvon Thibodeaux already breaking records with no ceiling in sight

In Oregon’s Pac-12 Championship game victory, the Duck defense suffocated Utah.

Oregon silenced Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley, who entered the game as the nation’s second most efficient quarterback. The Ducks picked off Huntley twice to add to their nation-leading 19 interceptions this season. Oregon created negative plays with a season-high six sacks, which broke the Pac-12 Championship Game record.

One of their not so secret weapons? True freshman defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who finished with 2.5 of those sacks, setting a new Pac-12 Championship game record for most sacks. Thibodeaux lived in the backfield all night, applying constant pressure on Huntley, almost hunting him like prey.

It’s not the only record Thibodeaux set in the Rose Bowl clinching victory. His blocked punt (which he almost scooped and scored) was the first blocked punt in Pac-12 Championship game history.

The nation’s No. 1 recruit in 2019 has been on a tear in the last five games, adding 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks to his season total.

His nine sacks this season broke Troy Dye’s previous freshman program record of 6.5 sacks. Thibodeaux is in good company, as the first Duck with nine sacks since former Duck, current San Francisco 49er, DeForest Buckner in 2015.

The scary/exciting part? It’s just the beginning for Thibodeaux, with no ceiling in sight.

I feel like I've gotten a lot better. I'm going to continue to get better. You could say it's only up from here, as long as I keep putting in the work, should see good results. --Thibodeaux

Or as he simply put it, “The proof is in the pudding.”

With one game left in his freshman campaign, Thibodeaux can still reach his goal of 10 sacks for the season. Oregon will play in the Rose Bowl on January 1st for the first time since 2014. Will the bright lights of the “granddaddy of them all” intimidate Thibodeaux?

For me it just sounds like another Tuesday.

(Note- The Rose Bowl is on Wednesday, Jan 1.)

CJ Verdell makes Pac-12 Championship history and smells like roses

CJ Verdell makes Pac-12 Championship history and smells like roses

Oregon running back CJ Verdell sprinted across the field at rainy Levi’s Stadium leaving a sprinkle of brown mud flipping from his white Nike cleats.

After barreling into the end zone for three scores in Oregon’s upset victory over No. 5 Utah, Verdell was dashing to the stage, where his teammates awaited, dancing with confetti, alongside the Duck mascot and second year head coach Mario Cristobal.

The sophomore grabbed a ‘Pac-12 Champions’ adorned hat and t-shirt before presented with the Most Valuable Player trophy.

The Ducks won their first Pac-12 Championship since 2014, earning the conference’s automatic berth to the Rose Bowl, by beating Utah 37-15. They snapped Utah’s eight-game winning streak and ended the Utes’ College Football Playoff dream.

Quite frankly, I think maybe these guys all week long got a little bit tired of hearing we weren't the more physical team. It gives you a little bit of an edge. --Cristobal 

Against the nation’s No. 1 rushing defense, Verdell made history. The Utes entered the game allowing an average of 56.3 yards per game, with only one team to rush for over 100 yards. Verdell doubled that amount, alone, with 208 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown that was the longest run in Pac-12 title game history.

How did Verdell feel about being in Utah’s shadow, leading up to the game?

Definitely put a little chip on our shoulders. We try not to focus on the outside noise too much. Hearing they're the most physical team in the Pac-12 made us want to come out here and work even more harder. --Verdell

The clutch performance sent Verdell over the edge to surpass 1,000 rushing yards for the second-consecutive season, becoming the fifth Oregon running back to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back years and the third to do it as a freshman and sophomore.

Verdell gave all credit to his offensive line.

I couldn't have done anything on that field without the O-line, They made the holes, paved the way for me to give the big runs. I got to give it all up to them. --Verdell

In Oregon’s most complete game of the season, the Ducks won the battle in the trenches, the defense held Utah scoreless in the first half and quarterback Justin Herbert showed off his mobility. Afterwards, Verdell and the Ducks celebrated in the locker room smelling of mud, sweat and a slight hint of roses.

Billboard in Utah congratulates Utes for PAC-12 Championship they didn't win

Billboard in Utah congratulates Utes for PAC-12 Championship they didn't win

We all make mistakes. 

Some people's mistakes are just more public than others. 

A digital billboard in Sandy, Utah, which is located about a half hour south of Salt Lake City made this gaffe. 

The screen reads Pac-12 Champions with Utah's logo and the PAC-12 Championship trophy.

It's not immediately known how long this was being displayed, but the timestamp on the tweet is from 9:22pm, which is roughly 30 minutes after the conclusion of the PAC-12 title game in which Oregon won 37-15.

Sewell brothers show family is bigger than football

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Brandon Kamerman/Twitter

Sewell brothers show family is bigger than football

As a battle waged on between the No. 13 Oregon Ducks and No. 5 Utah Utes, another was silently brewing.

Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell was playing across from his brother Nephi for the PAC-12 crown. 

It was inevitable. One of them was going to go home victorious, the other in defeat.

No matter the outcome, though, they would remain family. 

After the game, a touching moment was captured. 

The two were seen hugging and crying on the field at the conclusion of the game. 

Penei Sewell, a finalist for the Outland Trophy, comforted his brother Nephi, who transferred to Utah from Nevada and walked on. 

Some things are just bigger than sports. 

The Ducks are Rose Bowl bound, dashing Utah's hopes of a trip to the College Football Playoff.

Instant Analysis: No. 13 Oregon upsets No. 5 Utah to take the Pac-12 Conference crown

Instant Analysis: No. 13 Oregon upsets No. 5 Utah to take the Pac-12 Conference crown

SANTA CLARA- In a battle for the Pac-12 Conference Championship between its two most physical teams, the No. 13 Oregon Ducks (11-2, 8-1 Pac-12) beat No. 5 Utah at Levi’s Stadium to win its first conference championship since 2014.

The 37-15 win ties Oregon with Stanford for most Pac-12 Championship Game victories (3).

Also, do you smell the roses? Oregon earned the program’s eighth appearance in the Rose Bowl with the win.

Here are the top three takeaways from the contest.

1. Run, Herbert, Run!

Oregon couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. On the opening drive of the game, the Ducks flexed their strength in the trenches with a defensive stop on fourth-and-short.

The defense put the offense in the position to succeed… Which it did. Quarterback Justin Herbert’s legs added a wrinkle that Utah’s defense wasn’t prepared for. On one of Oregon’s best drives of the season, Herbert kept it on the zone read to rush for 22 yards. Running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio punched in a seven-yard touchdown to cap a nine-play, 67-yard drive and give Oregon an early 7-0 lead.

Did Oregon wait three months to set up this mobile Herbert? If so, it worked. Oregon’s 10 first quarter points tie the most against Utah this season (with USC, Utah’s only loss). Oregon totaled 263 yards of offense in the first half and Utah entered the game allowing 241.6 yards per game.

2. Explosion plays

This season, Utah has allowed just four plays of 40 or more yards.

In the first half alone, Oregon had two explosive, momentum-building plays of 40+ yards.

Herbert showed off his great touch on a deep ball to wide receiver Juwan Johnson, a 50-yard gain to the two-yard line. Then, wide receiver Johnny Johnson III burned the Utah corner to get wide open for a 45-yard touchdown. The junior’s touchdown grab is his fifth in the last four games.

Running back CJ Verdell earned the longest run in Pac-12 Championship history in the 4th quarter with a 70-yard touchdown rush. Verdell finished with 208 yards rushing.

Johnson III had an unbelievable 33-yard grab in double coverage over the back of a Utah defender.

3. Duck defense in the clutch

Against the Pac-12 conference’s most efficient quarterback Tyler Huntley and best running back Zack Moss, the Duck defense held Utah to zero points in the first half. It marked Oregon’s eighth game in which Oregon didn’t allow a touchdown in the first half. Utah was held scoreless in the first half for the first time this season.

Oregon made big stops in the clutch, holding Utah to 0-for-6 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down in the first half. Brady Breeze also grabbed an interception, only Huntley’s third of the season.

One of the biggest stops came with 7:45 left in the third quarter, Utah went for it on 4-and-2, trailing 20-7 and don’t convert. Thomas Graham came up with the deflection to give the ball to the offense at midfield.  

In the end, Oregon ended Utah’s eight-game winning steak, halting the Utes’ College Football Playoff dreams.

--

More to come with quotes and videos from Coach Mario Cristobal and Ducks players.

Will rain & strong wind threaten Oregon's offense in the PAC 12 Championship Game?

Will rain & strong wind threaten Oregon's offense in the PAC 12 Championship Game?

The forecast for the Pac-12 Championship game is rainy with projected 20+MPH winds.

This morning, it's beautiful and sunny in Santa Clara, but that's expected to change.

The weather could be a major factor in what will likely be a muddy clash for the Pac-12 title between No.13 Oregon and No. 5 Utah. Levi’s Stadium has real grass, by the way. It could be a muddy mess.

When describing the forecast to Oregon linebacker Troy Dye, he responded, “Sounds like a regular day in Eugene.”

Which is ironic, because it was so sunny in Eugene this week, the Ducks had to prepare for the bad weather with artificial wet drills by soaking the footballs.

The only time the Ducks played in the rain this season was at Washington. In that game, the Oregon offense put up 35 points. Justin Herbert threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns. So, while some might think it will be a ground game, the Ducks win over the Huskies shows Oregon won't be afraid to throw the ball.

Adverse weather conditions could lead to mistakes and sloppy play, but Oregon will need to win the turnover battle to have a chance today.

 

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Mario Cristobal’s ear-catching comments about time of possession