When the #10 Oregon Ducks entered Folsom Field to take on a struggling Colorado team, Buffalo fans were hoping for a game that could turn things around for their season and their program.
So the vibe was positive in the stadium as Ralphie the Buffalo came sprinting out of the tunnel to the cheers of thousands.
Unfortunately for the Colorado faithful Ralphie was the only Buffalo that gained any significant yardage on the afternoon as they fell to Oregon 45-2.
The Ducks came out with the intention of putting the game away early. By holding a 29-0 advantage after the first quarter, it is safe to say that mission was accomplished.
Oregon scored 4 touchdowns on their first 4 possessions with the drives averaging just 1:36 each. Three of those drives were for 80 or more yards as well, so the Ducks earned their points.
More impressive is the fact that Oregon dominated early without their two best players, running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Thomas. Both James and Da. Thomas were in uniform but were not expected to play because of injuries unless an emergency situation arose.
James still had an impact on his team. After observing lack-luster warm-ups, James huddled his team around him and gave a speech to fire up the Ducks.
Once the game started, there were no signs that James’ message was lost on any of the Oregon players. His replacements Kenjon Barner, De’Anthony Thomas and Tra Carson all had big games.
Barner accumulated 115 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 10 carries, highlighted by an 84-yard scamper to the endzone in the first quarter.
De. Thomas and Carson, both true freshmen, continued to impress with each scoring touchdowns of their own in the game.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Bryan Bennett was impressive in his own right. He completed 11 of his 20 attempts for 156 yards and two scores. He also showed his athletic ability by gaining an additional 69 yards with his feet.
The Ducks rested all of their starters beginning early in the third quarter, which makes it all the more impressive that they totaled 527 yards in the game with just over 23 minutes in time of possession. This is not surprising though because Oregon entered the game dead last in the FBS in time of possession, but third in the nation in scoring. So even without James and Da. Thomas, the Ducks did not lose a step.
The most important aspect of the game for Oregon was their defense, which contrary to the score would indicate pitched a shut-out against the Buffalos.
The Ducks relented only 231 total yards and no scores, while also scoring a defensive touchdown on an interception return by linebacker Michael Clay.
Linebacker Josh Kaddu played an unbelievable first half for Oregon, racking up 10 solo tackles and 2 sacks before resting after halftime.
However, the one sour taste in the mouths of Oregon fans was once again due to Cliff Harris and his inherent knack to drive head coach Chip Kelly up a wall.
Harris, who was a preseason All-American at cornerback and punt returner, was suspended for the first part of the season and has yet to work his way back onto the field as a starter.
Some thought Harris finally turned a corner last week by snagging an interception and performing well in the return game last week against Arizona State.
It would appear he just kept turning until he was right back where he started.
Harris was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting Buffalo players during pregame warm-ups, possibly having made fun of the Colorado mascot. Not tolerated at Folsom Field Cliff, strike one.
Harris was well on his way back to Kelly’s doghouse when he fielded a punt on his own 5-yard line before letting his momentum carry him into the endzone where he was tackled for a safety, giving the Buffalos their only points in the game.
So for those keeping score: Oregon: 45 Cliff Harris: 2
Some could say Harris compounded an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with an “unsmartmanlike” conduct penalty, all in the span of a few hours. Don’t worry Cliff, Will Lyles is saving a spot for you in Kelly’s doghouse (but you have to pay him a lot of money to use it, and there is no guarantee the seat won’t break).
Or if you would like to poke more fun at the Buffalos, they totaled as many points as Ducks punter Jackson Rice, who ran in a 2-point conversion after Oregon scored on their opening drive.
In all fairness to Colorado, they have been decimated by injuries and their fans appeared to care more about beating the crowds to the local bars than supporting their team. The Buffalos can improve, but they simply do not have the players that Oregon has right now.
Looking ahead for the Ducks they will return home to Autzen Stadium to play Washington State. Oregon, who will enter the game ranked 7th in the nation, should not have too much trouble with a Cougar team that is coming off of a loss to Oregon State.
The game figures to be a final tune-up for Oregon before they head into a critical stretch against Washington, Stanford and USC. It could also be the return of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas.
About the Author
Written by Rob Parness
My name is Robbie Parness and I am a student at the University of Oregon. I'm a California native that loves to play, watch and talk about all kinds of sports. I would love to become a sports writer someday or work in sports in any capacity.