University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota once again led the Ducks to an impressive win this week as they overpowered the Arizona State Sun Devils 43-21 in Tempe.
That is not unique. What is unique is how he did it.
Instead of depending on his passing prowess, Mariota, a 6-4 freshman from Honolulu, Hawaii, focused on the running game and blew the Sun Devils out of their own stadium and kept his Heisman buzz alive.
Mariota carried the ball 10 times for 135 yards.
He averaged 13.5 yards per carry. His longest run was an 86-yard rushing touchdown that earned him the nickname “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” from ESPN football analyst Rece Davis during the broadcast. Davis joked after Mariota’s touchdown run that “Aloha means touchdown.”
For the season Mariota is averaging more than 50 yards rushing per game. He nets more than 6 yards per carry and has scored two rushing touchdowns this season for the Ducks.
The rushing success allowed Oregon to take control of the Sun Devils early on. They led 43-7 at halftime. As a result of the blowout, Mariota was pulled from the game and did not get a chance to accumulate second half statistics.
The running game lessened the importance of the passing game. Mariota only attempted 12 passes, connecting on nine of them, including one eight-yard touchdown throw to wide receiver Bralon Addison. Mariota even caught a two-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Bryan Bennett on an improvised play near the goal line.
In the first half alone Mariota ran for one touchdown, passed for one score, and caught one in the end zone. He was truly a one man scoring machine for the Ducks.
At 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the conference, the Ducks sit atop the Pac-12 standings. They host the Colorado Buffaloes next weekend in Eugene. Mariota is expected to run, pass and catch his way into more potential Heisman glory in that game as well.