Oregon Ducks

Oregon Ducks must stop Anteaters to reach seventh Sweet 16

Oregon Ducks must stop Anteaters to reach seventh Sweet 16

Two of the hottest teams are about to meet in the round of 32.

Oregon is about as tough a 12-seed as you can draw in the NCAA Tournament. The Pac-12 Tournament champion Ducks are on a 9-game winning streak after bouncing the Wisconsin Badgers out of the Big Dance. Defeating the UC Irvine Anteaters sends Oregon to the Sweet 16 for the seventh time.

[READ The Ducks’ have an X-Factor, a commander and a King]

UC Irvine has won 17 games straight and successfully pulled off a big first round win over No.4 seed Kansas State.

Fun Fact: UC Irvine’s win over Kansas State was the biggest upset, by seed, so far and the Anteaters’ first NCAA Tournament win in program history.

Did you know? UC Irvine is the only team from California standing in the NCAA Tournament. 

Records: Oregon (24-12), UC Irvine (31-15)

All Hail Dana Altman:  The Ducks are 6-0 in first round NCAA Tournament games under coach Dana Altman. With one more win, Dana Altman will tie Ernie Kent as the winningest coach in Oregon history (235 wins). Oregon and Altman have finalized a contract extension through the 2025-26 season.

Defensive surge: In the last nine games, Oregon is holding opponents to shooting 34.6 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from three-point range. Also, the Ducks have held opponents to 62 points or less during the winning streak, except the overtime win against Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.

High Flying Ducks:

During the nine-game winning streak, the Ducks are outscoring their opponents by nearly 18 points per game. 

Kenny Wooten swatted his way to four blocked shots in back-to-back games; the Pac-12 Tournament title game and NCAA Tournament opening round. The 6-foot-9 sophomore was the X-factor in Oregon’s win over Wisconsin; his alley-oops and posturizing blocks changed the game.

Wooten finished the tournament with 10 blocks, a new Pac-12 record and the Ducks set the Pac-12 Tournament record for blocks with 23.

Payton Pritchard has taken command of Oregon. The junior guard is averaging over 16 points per game with 47 assists and 24 steals during Oregon’s nine-game winning streak. His confidence soared vs. Wisconsin, leading all scorers with 19 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds.

Louis King provides huge bursts of momentum with his clutch shooting. Against the Badgers he shot a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and finished the game with 17 points.

The 6-foot-9 forward scored in double figures in all but two Pac-12 games to become the No. 2 freshman scorer in conference play, averaging 14.5 points per game.

Anteaters to keep an eye on:

UC Irvine won the Big West championship with stingy on-ball defense that encourages the opponent to miss a lot of shots. UCI is top five nationally in field goal percentage defense and allows just 63.3 points per game.

Oregon will have its work cut our for them in the race for rebounds.  The Anteaters are plus 7.1 in the rebounding margin.

The Anteaters have one of the deepest benches and most experienced rosters in the sport. Nine different players have led the team in scoring this season and eight players average over five points per game.

UCI’s best scorers are Max Hazzard and Evan Leonard who both average double- figures with 12.5 and 11.1 points per game, respectively. 

6-foot-1 guard Evan Leonard was the star against K-State, scoring 19 points on just seven shots from the field, and a perfect 9-for-9 at the foul line.

Quotable: “We really jump on people,” Pritchard said. “I know (UC Irvine) is hot…We are going to be ready to play.“

How and where to watch

Time: Sunday, March 24, approximately 6:40 p.m.

Where: SAP Center, San Jose, California

TV: TBS

More Ducks:

Obama picks the Ducks to the Sweet 16

Hot Ducks advance in the Dance

Justin Herbert honored for success on the field and in the classroom

Justin Herbert honored for success on the field and in the classroom

The William V. Campbell Award is given annually to the college football player that is not only one of the best in the sport but is one of the best in the classroom as well.

This season's recipient: Oregon's Justin Herbert.

Herbert is a special talent. Duck fans know this. But, for as talented as he is on the gridiron, he may be more talented in his studies.

To be considered for the William V. Campbell Award, one must possess at least a 3.2 GPA. Herbert, well, he has 4.01 GPA. The General Science major studies for finals just as hard as he studies game film. 

In fact, on the flight to New York for the ceremony, Herbert spent time working on his final exams. 

Herbert and members of the team have been in New York for the past few days, but on Tuesday night Herbert was officially handed the trophy. Here are some of the sights and sounds from the Big Apple:

Undoubtedly, there will be more awards to come for this tremendous student-athlete. 

Penei Sewell wins Morris Trophy

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Penei Sewell wins Morris Trophy

Oregon sophomore Penei Sewell has been named the offensive recipient of the 40th annual Morris Trophy, which is presented to the most outstanding offensive and defensive lineman in the Pac-12 Conference.

 

Sewell is the seventh Duck to win the Morris Trophy, including the fourth offensive lineman, which is voted on by players in the Pac-12. The league’s starting defensive linemen vote for the offensive winner and vice versa.

 

Already named the Pac-12 Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus, Sewell is one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy. The recipient of the 74th Outland Trophy will be announced during ESPN's The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12, live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

 

Sewell’s dominance at left tackle protecting quarterback Justin Herbert has been on full display this season. He finished the regular season as PFF’s top-graded offensive lineman in the nation with a grade of 95.9, while is 95.5 run-block grade was also tops in the country. In 466 pass-blocking snaps this season, Sewell has allowed just seven pressures and no sacks. He has put together eight games without allowing a pressure, hurry or hit on the quarterback. His 92.2 pass-blocking mark ranks second nationally.

 

Named the Outland Trophy Offensive Player of the Month for September, Sewell leads Oregon with 52 knockdowns, including a staggering 11 against Montana. A native of Malaeimi, American Samoa, Sewell has been the top-ranked offensive lineman in the Pac-12 by PFF six times this year and taken home the Pac-12 Offensive Lineman of the Week award four times.

 

Sewell and Utah’s Bradley Anae will be honored at the 2019 Morris Trophy Award banquet on Thursday, January 16, at the Washington Athletic Club in downtown Seattle. 

 

Oregon Offensive Morris Trophy Winners
2019 – Penei Sewell (OL)
2017 – Tyrell Crosby (OL)
2015 – DeForest Buckner (DL)
2008 – Nick Reed (DL)
2005 – Haloti Ngata (DL)
2004 – Adam Snyder (OL) 
1983 – Gary Zimmerman (OL)

Oregon QB Justin Herbert awarded William V. Campbell Trophy

Oregon QB Justin Herbert awarded William V. Campbell Trophy

Oregon football’s destiny changed three years ago on October 8, 2016. It was a 70 degree day in Eugene, with a 4:35 PM kickoff. A Saturday rival game featuring Oregon vs. Washington. The Ducks were on a three-game losing streak in a desperate search for answers. They turned to a tall, gangly figure sporting the No. 10 across his chest as he trotted onto the field ready to begin his starting role. This figure was freshman quarterback Justin Herbert, and he and the Ducks got smacked 70-21 by the Huskies. 

But it was in that moment, on that day, that Oregon football would change the course of its destiny.

A 4-8 season that turned into a Rose Bowl appearance four years later thanks in big to the arm, mind, character and heart of Herbert.

On Tuesday, three days after leading the Ducks to a Pac-12 Championship, Herbert was honored with the William V. Campbell award. 

The award recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.

Here are the prerequisites for this prestigious award:

Be a senior or graduate student. Check.

Herbert gave Ducks fans the best Christmas present of them all when he announced he would forgo the 2019 NFL Draft as a potential top 10 draft pick and return to Oregon for his senior season. And what a season it has been with a Rose Bowl at the end of the tunnel.

Have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. Check. 

Well, sort of because Herbert broke the scale. He currently holds a 4.01 GPA majoring in General Science with an emphasis in Biology. When Talkin’ Ducks host Jordan Kent sat down with Herbert earlier this season, Herbert explained with a chuckle that his toughest class was neuroscience, which we think just may be everyone’s toughest class…

Outstanding football ability. Check.

Duh. A projected top 10 draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, leading his team to a Pac-12 Championship and now Rose Bowl appearance, second in the Pac-12 conference in passing (3,333 yards), 32 touchdowns to just five interceptions on the season and a 74.1 QBR.

Strong leadership and citizenship. Check.

In an article written by Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com, Herbert was one of the main advocates to name Mario Cristobal as Oregon’s head coach after Willie Taggart departed for Florida State in 2017. Herbert called UO athletic director Rob Mullens over the phone to directly give his opinion.

Herbert exhibits leadership qualities on and off the field, and as the Ducks prepare for their final game of the season at the 'granddaddy of them all', can you imagine a better storybook ending than Herbert, the hometown hero, hoisting a Rose Bowl trophy in a few weeks…

Oregon RB Darrian Felix to enter NCAA transfer portal

Oregon RB Darrian Felix to enter NCAA transfer portal

If you ever found yourself saying “Man, I wish Darrian Felix wasn’t injured”, you’re likely not the only one. It's the career you wish took a different path. The potential Felix has at the running back position is very much there, but unfortunately the injury bug struck early into his Oregon Ducks career.

Just announced today via his social media, Felix has decided to enter the NCAA transfer portal.

The 5-foot-11, 197-pound running back from Fort Meyers, Florida saw action in nine games as a freshman in 2017. In those nine games, Felix averaged 6.1 yards per carry and wasn’t stopped for a loss on any of his 30 carries.

Felix joined CJ Verdell and Cyrus Habibi-Likio in that 2017 freshmen running back class that backed up senior Royce Freeman, redshirt senior Kani Benoit and redshirt junior Tony Brooks-James.

Felix utilized a redshirt season after suffering a season-ending injury in 2018.

His best game in an Oregon uniform came against Nevada on Sept. 7, 2019. Felix recorded eight carries for 80 yards, his longest run at 62 yards and one touchdown against the visiting Wolf Pack. 

What this means for the Ducks:

This season, Felix sat behind Verdell, Travis Dye and Cyrus Habibi-Likio while also competing with freshmen Sean Dollars, Cross Patton and Jayvaun Wilson. His transfer doesn’t come at much surprise. Sitting that far down the depth chart is tough especially with the talent that Felix brings to the table and the young backs he’s sitting behind (all of the current backs are either sophomores or freshmen). He ran with aggression, poise and swiftness along with his powerful 5-foot-11, 197-pound frame.

A competitor off and on the field, Felix will do great things at his next opportunity.

Oregon Ducks success and snubs in 2019 Pac-12 Conference honors

Oregon Ducks success and snubs in 2019 Pac-12 Conference honors

Let the honors and awards begin to pile up for the No. 6 and 2019 Pac-12 Champion Oregon Ducks.

On Tuesday, the Pac-12 conference released its first team, second team and specialists honors.

Below is the list of Ducks who made the list.

FIRST TEAM:

Penei Sewell - The Outland Trophy finalist and Pro Football Focus Pac-12 Player of the Year can now add Pac-12 first team All-Conference to his impressive sophomore season resume. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound offensive tackle makes highlight plays all over the field, whether it’s protecting quarterback Justin Herbert or creating a lot of space for the ground attack. 

Sewell was also named on Tuesday as a finalist for the 2019 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year award.

Brady Breeze - Rewind last weekend to the Pac-12 Championship game and Breeze played his heart out. Both on special teams and in the secondary, the 6-foot, 196-pound junior flew to the ball and made some serious big hits. The Portland-native has earned and deserved this award this season in his best year yet in an Oregon football uniform. His best game came against the USC Trojans in Los Angeles where he recorded one pick-six, one fumble recovery and seven tackles.

In the Pac-12 Championship, it was more of the same: nine tackles, one interception and one monstrous hit that almost flipped Utah wide receiver Jaylen Dixon.

SECOND TEAM:

CJ Verdell - The 5-foot-9, 210-pound running back has had an up and down season in his sophomore campaign. Easily his two best games were against Washington State (rushed for 257 yards on the ground and three touchdowns) and against Utah in the Pac-12 championship (sealed the win with a 70-yard TD run to go along with 208 rushing yards that resulted in the Pac-12 championship MVP trophy). Overall, Verdell has had back-to-back seasons rushing for over 1,000+ yards for the Ducks, the fifth Ducks running back to do so and just the third as a freshman and sophomore.

[RELATED]: CJ Verdell makes history and smells like roses

Shane Lemieux - A four-year starter on that stout Oregon offensive line that has been named a finalist for the Joe Moore Award that recognizes the nation’s best offensive line.

Troy Dye - Duh. This is a no-brainer but also definitely too low. Dye has lead the team in tackles 19-of-37 career games, has lead the team in tackles the previous three seasons. His senior season, Dye has recorded 75 tackles and two interceptions while wearing a club on his right hand for half the season.

Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year:

Kayvon Thibodeaux - And with good reason. In his first season of collegiate football, Thibodeaux leads the team in sacks (9.0) and tackles for loss (14.0). In the Pac-12 championship, Thibodeaux made Utah QB Tyler Huntley’s life a nightmare applying six QB pressures and 2.5 sacks. He also blocked a punt on special teams.

The future is bright.

SNUBBED:

No Justin Herbert? No Calvin Throckmorton? 

This is by no means in disrespect to the players who were honored with first or second team accolades, but c’mon Pac-12. How does one win the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year and not earn first team or second team accolades? Especially when another freshman defensive lineman in USC's Drake Jackson made second team.

At least the Ducks add Pac-12 champs to their name.

Oregon Ducks jump into Top 10 in latest AP Poll

Oregon Ducks jump into Top 10 in latest AP Poll

After an extended absence, the Oregon Ducks (7-2) have ascended into the Top 10 of the latest Associated Press poll, coming in at No. 10. 

It’s the first time the program has been inside the top 10 since the 2016-2017 season when they were ranked No. 9 going into the NCAA tournament and eventually advanced to the Final Four. 

The Ducks’ only losses this season have come to No. 6 Gonzaga and No. 17 North Carolina in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Both games came down to the final possessions with the Ducks taking the Bulldogs to overtime. 

Oregon has ranked wins over No. 13 Memphis at the Phil Knight Invitational and No. 22 Seton Hall in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. In the later game, the Ducks finished the game on a 14-2 run to steal the victory.  

This Friday, Oregon travels to Ann Arbor, Michigan to play No. 5 Michigan at 9:00am PST in a potential NCAA tournament preview. Freshman center N’Faly Dante will be officially on the team for the game but it’s unlikely he will play since he cannot practice with the team until he officially enrolls in the University that morning. 

Oregon will finish out their nonconference schedule hosting Montana, Texas Southern and Alabama State.

Two years ago, Cristobal was named head coach, now the Ducks are headed to the Rose Bowl

Two years ago, Cristobal was named head coach, now the Ducks are headed to the Rose Bowl

The No. 6 Oregon Ducks (11-2, 8-1 Pac-12) punched their ticket to their eighth Rose Bowl by handedly beating Utah in the Pac-12 Championship game. Ironically, on his two-year anniversary of being promoted to head coach, Mario Cristobal officially learned that the 106th Rose Bowl will be a classic physical battle between Oregon vs. No. 8 Wisconsin.

From a 7-6 record topped with Las Vegas Bowl loss in 2017 to an 11-2 record with a chance to win the “Granddaddy of them all” in 2019, the improvement is substantial and Cristobal is only getting started on this trajectory. Cristobal’s comments when he was reminded of his anniversary:

Just indebted and gratitude beyond what words can describe for that day, the opportunity from Rob Mullens and the administration and, of course, the players who really -- you know, they fought and spoke strongly about it. So it's been -- it's been everything and more that one could ever ask for, and I do feel like we're just kind of getting started and going on a trajectory. The program is what we want it to be. So it's hard to stop and think about it, right, with all the stuff we've got to do, especially in the middle of recruiting. But, again, it's all of those things and more and just looking forward to playing in the Rose Bowl.

The senior class (quarterback Justin Herbert, linebacker Troy Dye, offensive lineman Shane Lemieux, etc) and Cristobal have a special bond and connection. As freshmen in 2016, they played on a team that finished 4-8 and left out of a bowl game. In 2017, Cristobal joined the coaching staff and brought discipline with him. Later that season, more than 70 Duck players signed a petition to UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens, lobbying for Cristobal to take over the program when former coach Taggart departed for Florida State. Oregon’s current seniors and a few juniors are the only remaining players who signed that petition.

For that, Cristobal is deeply thankful.

In his two seasons, Cristobal has coached Oregon to 20 wins, including: four victories (undefeated) against rivals Washington and Oregon State, a RedBox Bowl win and Oregon's first conference title since 2014. The Ducks have gone from unranked to No. 6 and have landed the program's best two recruiting classes in history. Not bad. 

The Ducks have 23 days to prepare for the Badgers, who have an impressive resume with three top-25 wins. What will Oregon’s bowl game prep consist of?

We'll use every day allotted to us… We have final exams now. So those guys will take a deep dive in academics and handle all their business now. And then while we have some strength and conditioning sessions and some rehabilitation, mobility sessions, get the bodies back. But we came out of the game healthy, and we really want to take advantage of these practices, not only from a preparations standpoint, which is the most important part, but also from a player development standpoint. We still have some guys that haven't used their four games. They haven't red shirted and we feel that could help us a little bit. So, it will be business as usual. It really will. After a week off, we feel that we can go back to our regular routine and not really off too much.

So, the Ducks have three weeks to tune up their already healthy roster, develop underclassmen, ace their finals and get back to routine practice for Wisconsin.

With Cristobal’s stamp so deeply engraved on the Oregon program, it’s hard to believe that just two years ago he got the call to be at the top.

Oregon vs. Wisconsin in the 106th Rose Bowl: 3 things that jump out about the Badgers

Oregon vs. Wisconsin in the 106th Rose Bowl: 3 things that jump out about the Badgers

There wasn’t a whole lot of drama surrounding the College Football Playoff and bowl game reveal this year. No. 1 LSU will play No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl Semifinal and No. 2 Ohio State will play No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl Semifinal. However, Oregon fans were reeling to see who Ducks would face in the Rose Bowl: Penn State or Wisconsin. It’d be easy to make a case for each but…

Oregon’s eighth Rose Bowl appearance will be versus Big Ten opponent Wisconsin.

In the final College Football Playoff rankings, the Pac-12 Conference champion Ducks (11-2, 8-1 Pac-12) are No. 6, while Wisconsin (10-3, 7-2 Big Ten) is No. 8.

The Ducks will play in the “Granddaddy of them all” in Pasadena, California at 2 p.m. (PT) on January 1, 2020. After winning the Pac-12 Championship game against Utah, the Ducks are tied with Stanford for the most conference title game wins with three. Also, the impressive win against the Utes marked the first time the Ducks have beaten a top-5 team since dismantling Florida State in the 2015 Rose Bowl.

Oregon’s 11-win season has been highlighted by some incredible defensive play. The Duck defense has help 12 of it 13 opponents under their season average with the lowest point allowed per game (15.7) in school history since 1966.

[READ:Budding Oregon football star Kayvon Thibodeaux already breaking records with no ceiling in sight]

Oregon offense peaked at the perfect time against the Utah’s nation-leading rushing defense. The Ducks finished with 432 yards of total offense with 239 yards on the ground. Entering the game, Utah was allowing just 241.6 yards per game and 56.2 yards on the ground.

The Ducks will need another complete game against Wisconsin. A sneak peak into the New Year’s six matchup reveals three important things about the Badgers:

1. It’s Wisconsin’s 10th Rose Bowl appearance, losing each of the last three matchups, which includes the 2012 Rose Bowl when the Ducks deafeated a Russell Wilson led Badgers team, 45-38.

2. The Badgers have an impressive 2019 resume, with three top-25 wins (Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota). Maybe the most intriguing? Wisconsin roared into the Big Ten Championship Game with a dominating first-half lead, but Ohio State rallied back to claim the Big Ten title, 34-21.Their biggest blemish is a one-point road loss to Illinois.

3. Wisconsin’s leading rusher, Jonathan Taylor, plans to play in the Bowl Game. Against Ohio State, Taylor rushed for 148 yards and one touchdown, becoming the seventh player in FBS history to reach 6,000 yards rushing in his career. The junior is considered a likely candidate to enter the 2020 NFL draft. Last month, he was listed as the No. 27 overall prospect by ESPN's Todd McShay and the No. 2 running back by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.

Get your popcorn ready, this is going to be a fun matchup!

Oregon Ducks set to take on Wisconsin Badgers in 106th Rose Bowl

Oregon Ducks set to take on Wisconsin Badgers in 106th Rose Bowl

The Oregon Ducks have an opponent in the “Granddaddy of them all.”

Coming off a competitive game vs. the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes, the University of Wisconsin has punched their ticket into the 106th Rose Bowl to take on Oregon on New Year’s Day. 

It's a re-match!

The two teams last met in the 98th edition of the Rose Bowl in 2012. Oregon inched out Wisconsin 45-38, giving the Ducks their first Rose Bowl win since 1917. 

Another piece of housekeeping with the reveal of the Rose Bowl matchup was where the Ducks would sit in the CFB rankings. 

The College Football Playoff semifinal games were determined Sunday morning with No. 1 LSU facing No. 4 Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl and the No. 2 Ohio State facing No. 3 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl. 

With the Oregon Ducks set to face Wisconsin in the 106th Rose Bowl on New Years Day, they will come in ranked No. 6 in the nation, one spot from the College Football Playoff. It's their highest ranking since 2014.

More to come!