BERKELEY-- Oregon’s offense shined in the Ducks’ first road test and Pac-12 conference win over No. 24 California. The Ducks (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) beat the Bears, 42-24, in their first conference road victory since 2016 when they upset then No. 11 Utah.
Quarterback Justin Herbert made it rain against one of the nation's top defenses and he did it in big play fashion. His first touchdown pass was a 30-yard bullet to transfer tight end Kano Dillon that made the nine NFL scouts present lick their chops. His second touchdown pass was a picture perfect 36-yard ball to junior wide receiver Dillon Mitchell.
A big question heading into this Top 25 matchup was, will Cal’s multiple looks and tricky defensive scheme confuse Herbert? Entering Saturday, the Bears’ defense ranked sixth in the nation allowing an average of 4.22 yards per play and 19.2 points per game. The answer is no, Herbert looked as poised as ever.
“(Herbert) sees the whole field, he's a great decision-maker and he does not get duped by the coverage” said Oregon coach Mario Cristobal. “You’re gonna hear me say it every week; He just continues to elevate his game.””
The junior threw zero interceptions against a Cal team that lead the Pac-12 with seven interceptions. Herbert finished the game 16-of-22 with 225 passing yards, completing passes to eight different UO receivers.
Mitchell continues to prove to be Herbert’s go-to receiver. Coming off a career-high game against Stanford, Mitchell caught seven balls for 105 yards and a score.
Oregon’s rushing attack was without senior Tony Brooks-James. Despite playing on special teams, Brooks-James did not receive a carry because of an ankle injury that limited his playing time.
Freshman CJ Verdell and Travis Dye handled the rushing load, both surpassing 100 rushing yards. Cyrus Habibi-Likio also scored in front of 200+ family and friends in the crowd, the red zone warrior now has six touchdowns this season.
Oregon was able to bounce-back from last Saturday’s shocking loss to No. 7 Stanford with a lot of thanks to its defense, who scored two touchdowns and forced five turnovers. Troy Dye led the defense with 11 tackles and made a huge fourth-and-goal stop on the Oregon one-yard line that tempered the Bears 2nd half strike back.
Well. Frustrated at a couple drives in the 2nd half. But I am so so Proud of the effort. Offense was so good and 5 takeaways on defense. 2 for scores! Have a big one coming up! Go Ducks!— Jim Leavitt (@CoachJimLeavitt) September 30, 2018
"I'm really proud of our football team coming on the road," said Cristobal. "We worked really hard all week, coming off a hard loss and they really took it upon themselves to get right to business.
Oregon flexed its resiliency at a crucial time, entering the toughest part of its schedule. The Ducks are now 1-1 in conference play and get a bye week to rest before facing rival No. 10 Washington on Oct. 13.