A Win For the History Books
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mark down the final score and the date. This was one for the history books.
The Oregon football team recorded one of the most significant wins in program history Saturday, a 35-28 takedown of No. 3 Ohio State before 100,482 fans in Ohio Stadium. One of the biggest crowds ever to watch the Ducks saw one of the biggest games they ever played, as the No. 12 UO football team validated its status as a College Football Playoff contender by dominating the Buckeyes.
"Big game for Oregon; big game for the Pac-12," UO coach Mario Cristobal said.
After workhorse CJ Verdell's third touchdown of the day put the Ducks up by 14 early in the second half, Oregon held off Ohio State's comeback attempt before a crowd that grew increasingly raucous. Freshman tight end Moliki Matavao scored the decisive touchdown with 10:10 left in the game, and an interception by safety Verone McKinley III with 2:50 to play all but sealed it.
The win was Oregon's biggest in intersectional play since at least a 2007 victory at Michigan — and perhaps ever. Pac-12 Network analyst Yogi Roth said earlier in the week that a UO victory would be the most significant nonconference regular-season result for any Pac-12 member in conference history.
The Ducks did it without defenders Kayvon Thibodeaux and Justin Flowe, who didn't suit up due to injury. Despite their absence, the UO defense managed to mostly keep the reins on Ohio State's explosive offense, and Oregon dominated the line of scrimmage offensively.
"It's hard to express in words the magnitude of coming out here down a couple guys due to injuries and just playing gritty, gutsy football," Cristobal said.
Verdell finished with 161 rushing yards on 20 carries, including a 14-yard TD run to open scoring in the second quarter and a 77-yard explosion early in the second half that made it 21-7. He also had a receiving touchdown in the first half, and his backfield mate Travis Dye scored the touchdown that put Oregon up 28-14 midway through the third quarter.
Quarterback Anthony Brown was 17-of-35 passing for 236 yards and two touchdowns, and played a clean game to help Oregon win the turnover battle — McKinley's interception was the only takeaway by either defense.
Brown's 14-yard touchdown pass to Matavao in the fourth quarter was the second straight Ohio State touchdown that the Ducks answered on their next possession, as Brown helped Oregon dig deep to finish off a tight game for the second week in a row.
"He was winning over the team towards the end of last season," Cristobal said. "I think today, everybody saw why."