Playing in what definitely will be his final season in College Football, Marcus Mariota wants it all: Leading Oregon into the playoffs and maybe winning a national championship, and also putting himself in a better position to win the Heisman Trohpy, with his chances greatly improved after a record breaking performance in a 59-41 victory on the road against California.
After already slipping at home against Arizona, the Ducks can’t take anything for granted anymore, even on the road against a team that has given up at least 30 points in what is now 18 consecutive conference games. The Golden Bears did put up a fight and even held the lead twice in the first quarter, but they gave up 28 points in the second quarter, something that it is impossible to come back from against a team vastly superior in almost every way.
Mariota became the all-time leader for the school when it comes to passing yards and finished the game with 18-of-30 for 326 yards with five touchdown passes and an interception. He has also now thrown a touchdown pass in 34 consecutive games, five behind the record of 39 games, held by Rakeem Cato of Marshall, who doesn’t look like he’s going to be slowed down any time soon considering how weak the schedule is for the Thundering Herd.
Mariota didn’t need to do a lot of running, finishing with six carries for 36 yards, while Royce Freeman got 112 yards and two touchdowns to lead a rushing attack with 264 yards in the game. Oregon have now scored more than 40 points in three consecutive games, and have topped 40 on six of their eight games this season, including against the ranked Michigan State and UCLA (at the time they were ranked).
What might be a bit more worrying is their defense, giving up 25.9 points per game, and over 30 points in four of their last five games. One might suggest that when you have an offense that puts up 590 yards or more quite regularly points conceded isn’t something to worry about, but Stanford, their next opponent and often a team that has stood in their way of winning the conference over the last two seasons, have the ability to slow Oregon down. There’s also a very difficult road game against Utah down the line, another tricky day for the slickest offense in College Football.
Two Oregon receivers – Byron Marshall and Dwayne Stanford, finished with over 100 receiving yards. Marshall had 133 yards on four receptions and one touchdown; Stanford finished with two scores, catching six passes for 103 yards. Pharaoh Brown caught only two passes, but both of them were for touchdowns.
Mariota is tied for 7th in the nation with 19 touchdown passes this season, but he has yet to throw a single interception this season. He is completing 70.2% of his passes, the best among the top 30 quarterbacks in terms of touchdown passes, and his rating of 191.0 is the best among starting quarterbacks. Right now, Dak Prescott might be ranked a bit higher when it comes to winning the Heisman, but if Oregon win out until it’s time to pick the four teams in the playoffs, that Heisman voting situation might change, especially if Mississippi State don’t stay undefeated forever.