It had the makings of a very good game. The Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins looked as evenly matched as two teams could in the first half, trading shots back and forth like prize fighters, taking a 14-14 tie into halftime. For a team that averaged at least 45 points a contest all season long, the Ducks looked like they had finally met their match.
Then the second half happened. Oregon woke up and UCLA never saw the end zone again.
The 42-14 win by Oregon may have been a statement game, not only for the school, but in the eyes of BCS voters on the heels of FSU’s 49-17 thumping of North Carolina State. The Seminoles beat Clemson last week when the Tigers were ranked third in the nation.
Was tonight about style points or pleading its case to be second in the BCS standings next week? Whatever the case, Marcus Mariota and a strong running game proved to be too much for the Bruins. With Stanford on the horizon, the Ducks can make a claim to challenge for the second BCS slot next to either the Seminoles or Alabama.
Here is the good, the bad and the ugly of this contest.
Mariota does it again. What makes this game so special about his performance is he managed the game more than he tried to win it for his team. He threw for only 230 yards and a touchdown, but his 21 of 28 passing efficiency was impressive and kept the Bruins’ defense on their heels all night.
To aid the performance of Mariota, Byron Marshall ran for 133 yards and scored three times to put the game away. Balanced attacks usually mean wins, and Oregon proved that to be true Saturday night.
Was the lack of scoring by UCLA in the second half more about UCLA’s offense lost momentum or was it more about Oregon’s defense stepping up?
UCLA only converted 9 of 18 on third down and had only 285 total yards on the night. Oregon had 325 yards rushing alone en route to 555 total yards of total offense.
Brett Hundley looked like he would be a competitive equal for Mariota early. Then reality set in.
He completed 13-of-19 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown but also threw two interceptions, including one early in the fourth quarter that led to an Oregon touchdown. He also ran for 64 yards and a score.
Hundley was clearly forced into making errors and not moving the offense late in the game, but the score was well out of reach.