Cardinal Drops Season Opener
EUGENE, Ore. — Tyler Shough picked up where Justin Herbert left off, throwing for 227 yards and a touchdown while running for another score to lead No. 12 Oregon to a 35-14 victory over short-handed Stanford on Saturday night in the opener for both teams.
Shough completed 17 of 26 passes with one interception, and ran for 85 yards. CJ Verdell ran for 105 yards and a score for Oregon, which won its 11th straight game at Autzen Stadium, the seventh longest active streak in the nation.
Stanford was hurt before the game even kicked off when it was announced that starting quarterback Davis Mills, wide receiver Connor Wedington and defensive end Trey LaBounty were unavailable due to COVID-19 testing results and contact tracing protocols.
Despite being short-handed, the Cardinal opened the scoring thanks to Austin Jones' 4-yard touchdown run with 3:25 remaining in the first quarter. Jones ran for 100 yards on 20 carries, scoring on two yards out for his second touchdown with 7:39 left in the fourth quarter.
Mills, who started in six games for the Cardinal last season while throwing for 1,960 yards and 11 touchdowns, was replaced by backup Jack West, who completed 13 of 19 passes for 154 yards. Freshman Tanner McKee also saw playing time, completing three of seven passes for 62 yards.
Stanford's defense produced two takeaways, highlighted by Levani Damuni, who became the first Cardinal player to record an interception and fumble recovery in the same game since Frank Buncom had two interceptions and a fumble recovery against TCU on Dec. 28, 2017 in the Alamo Bowl.
The Cardinal, which dropped its season opener for the first time since a 16-6 loss at Northwestern back on Sept. 5, 2015, was held scoreless in the middle quarters while Jet Toner missed four field goal attempts.
Trailing 7-0, Oregon answered on the ensuing drive with Verdell's 10-yard scoring run. Verdell is the Pac-12's top returning running back with 1,220 rushing yards last season.
The Ducks moved in front 14-7 following Shough's 5-yard touchdown pass to DJ Johnson with 1:05 to play before halftime.
Third-quarter rushing touchdowns from Travis Dye and Shough increased Oregon's lead to 28-7.
After Jones' second touchdown, Cyrus Habibi-Likio's 4-yard scoring run provided the final margin for Oregon.
Stanford hosts Colorado on Saturday, Nov. 14, in its home opener at Stanford Stadium.