An arrogant bunch, the 2013 version of the Oregon Ducks. If it’s not the national title, it’s not good enough for them. That kind of thinking led to a shocking loss in Arizona, ending their chance of winning the Pac-12 and going to the Rose Bowl. They almost let their rivalry against Oregon State and the small chance of appearing in a BCS bowl slip away too, until Marcus Mariota and Josh Huff decided that enough is enough, coming up with the dramatic touchdown to win the game 36-35.
In what turned out to be quite the back and forth ordeal in a rivalry that’s been pretty one sided (Oregon going into the game with five consecutive wins in the Civil War), the 117th edition of the rivalry, the seventh most played in College Football, it was Marcus Mariota connecting twice with Josh Huff for touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including the winning score with 29 seconds left in the game, that gave Oregon their sixth consecutive win over the Beavers in what was the closest game between the two teams since Oregon’s most recent domination of the rivalry has begun.
It is the sixth straight 10-win season, although the record alone isn’t enough to make up for their losses to Stanford and Arizona, costing them what seemed to be a clear path towards the national title game and winning the conference title they also missed out on last year after that close call against the Cardinal.
Problems for the Ducks weren’t really on Oregon State’s mind. Oregon State entered the game after four consecutive losses, and an incredible game from Terron Ward, running for 145 yards and two touchdowns, adding another score as a receiver, was almost enough to make it a happy finish to the season, which became only about winning or losing in their big rivalry game, nothing more.
While Ward was able to stretch the Oregon defense time and time again without too many problems, Oregon State’s inability to keep Marcus Mariota from throwing any way he likes to in the second half, finding Josh Huff for three touchdown passes and doing extremely well on play-action designs meant the end of their chances of finally leaving Eugene with a smile. Thomas Tyner and De’Anthony Thomas dominated early on, both rushing for touchdowns, slightly making up for Mariota’s inaccurate start, completing only 50% of his passes in the game and intercepted twice.
Can Mark Helfrich be pleased with his first season as the Oregon head coach? Maybe it’s best to leave the summarizing till after the bowl game, but that’s rarely the heart of the matter. While Oregon once again provided one of the best offensive shows in the nation, their inability to find an answer to Stanford, an inferior Cardinal team to what we saw last year and letting the players get their guard down once the biggest prize was already off the table is certainly somewhat of a failure, especially considering the talent he had to work with after Chip Kelly left to the NFL. The Civil war win does leave a sweet taste, but probably not enough.