In an impressive 53-30 victory over the Stanford Cardinal, the No. 7 Oregon Ducks are in the driver’s seat to the Rose Bowl, and have an outside shot at a national championship.
The offense was impressive, and the defense might have played their best game of the season.
Oregon has a huge game against USC next Saturday, but here’s a look at how the Ducks held up in this key Pac-12 North showdown.
Darron Thomas should have finally silenced all the critics and naysayers, completing 11-of-17 passes for 155 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Add to that, he rushed for 17 yards (which would be a lot more without a sack for a loss of 20). Thomas had his best game of the year.
Running Backs: A
The Ducks’ stellar tandem of running backs had another great game, rushing for 232 yards with an average of 5.0 YPC and three scores. LaMichael James rushed for 146 of those with all three scores. The lone mistake was a De’Anthony Thomas fumble.
Wide Receivers: A
This was probably the wide receivers' best game of the season, avoiding drops and getting a lot of yards after catches. Huff’s 59-yard TD was almost entirely after the catch as he broke two tackles and brought it in for a score. This game was just a great effort from the entire unit.
Offensive Line: B+
After a shaky start, allowing a few tackles for loss and a lot of penetration, the offensive line had a tremendous last three quarters, giving Darron Thomas ample time to throw and LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner holes to run through.
Defensive Line: A-
This unit was overlooked due to the great play of the linebackers. Terrell Turner forced a key fumble, and the linemen stepped up big in the second half, shutting down lanes and putting pressure on Andrew Luck.
This was easily the best unit of the game. Whether it be Michael Clay sacks and forced fumbles, Boseko Lokombo and Dewitt Stuckey interceptions, the Ducks’ linebackers were the key to this game. My props go to the linebackers.
The unit did what they were supposed to do: keep Luck at bay. While the Cardinal did rack up 271 yards through the air, the defensive backs had a stellar game. Eddie Pleasant had a few nice break ups, and the Ducks looked good. If they play like this against USC, Matt Barkley will have a long day ahead of him.
The lone major mistake was a fumble by LaMichael James. Besides that, everything was as expected.
Alejandro Maldonado converted on his lone field goal attempt, a 40-yarder, and made 6-of-6 extra points. The kickoffs were good as well, and the coverage team didn’t allow any huge returns.
Jackson Rice showed just why he’s a Ray Guy Award finalist. Rice punted the ball three times with a 46.3-yard average and only 3 yards returned. Rice is a weapon.
There’s really no other way to look at this game.
The Ducks went into Palo Alto and took a win away from the Cardinal.
This team played its best game of the year, and they look like they’ll jump a few spots in the BCS polls.
They’ll obviously pass Boise State and Stanford, but don’t be surprised to see them jump Oklahoma or Alabama.