Oregon’s coaches and players walked out of Autzen Stadium for the final time in 2019 with a win, but without satisfying smiles.
The No. 14 Oregon Ducks (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) defeated Oregon State 24-10, in front of a sellout crowd of 56,243 fans at Autzen Stadium on a below freezing afternoon.
You’d think the Ducks would be more upbeat after achieving their first 10-win season since 2014, finishing Pac-12 Conference play undefeated at home and spoiling their rival’s bowl game chances.
But Oregon’s victory left plenty to be desired... Plus, plenty to look forward to.
We had moments and opportunities to separate and take control of the game In rivalry games especially, if you don’t do that, you make yourself uncomfortable. -- Mario Cristobal
With a sophomore quarterback in his first career start, Oregon State outgained Oregon, 380 yards to 365 yards. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 174 yards against a Beavers defense that allows an average of 286 yards per game. It was hardly the senior day performance that Ducks fans had hoped for from the Eugene, Oregon-native.
We aren’t playing to our best right now, I think we can play a lot better. But, there was flashes of it… It’s a good feeling to have that next game. -- Wide receiver Johnny Johnson III.
Alas, the Ducks found a way to win and have an opportunity to demonstrate their best play yet in the Pac-12 Championship game.
The Ducks have six days “to get back to their style of offense” according to Cristobal. In order to take the crown and the conference’s bid to the Rose Bowl, it’s going to take a much more in sync offense against the Pac-12 South Division winner Utah. And hopefully some more electrifying moments to look forward to.
It’s a great opportunity for us, especially after going 4-8 our freshman year, to play in the Pac-12 Championship. It’s been a great ride.” -- Justin Herbert
The conference championship is looming and Oregon feels it has enough in the tank to compete and win its first title since 2014. And maybe, a hard fought victory on Friday will garner a fulfilling smile from the Ducks as they leave Levi’s Stadium.
As Cristobal said in the locker room after the game, “it’s time to empty the tank.”