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Oregon Football Game Notes: No. 7 Michigan State
Release Date: 09/02/2014
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For complete game notes, including stats, standings, depth chart, etc., view the PDF.

National Television: FOX with Gus Johnson (pxp), Charles Davis (analyst) and Molly McGrath (reporter). Radio: Oregon IMG with Jerry Allen (pxp) and Mike Jorgensen (analyst); Westwood One with John Sadak (pxp) and Derek Rackley (reporter). Satellite Radio: Sirius 92, XM 198 .

•Saturday’s meeting is the fifth all-time between Oregon and Michigan State with each team winning twice previously.
•The home team has won all four games with the Spartans taking the most recent contest, 27-20, in East Lansing in 1999.
•The Ducks’ last win came in the 1998 season opener, 48-14. Reuben Droughns ran for 202 yards and 2 TDs, and caught one of Akili Smith’s four first-half touchdown passes.

•Saturday’s game will be the first non-conference game at Autzen Stadium featuring two teams ranked in the top 10.
•The last time two top 10 teams met at Autzen Stadium was Oct. 2, 2010, when No. 4 Oregon beat No. 9 Stanford, 52-31.
•The previous highest ranked top 10 matchup came on Nov. 3, 2007 when No. 4 Oregon beat No. 6 Arizona State, 35-23.
•Oregon has won 11 straight games against teams outside of the Pac-12 Conference. The Ducks last non-conference defeat came vs. No. 4 LSU in the 2011 Cowboys Classic.
•Freshman Charles Nelson’s 50-yard touchdown on a punt return against South Dakota was the first punt returned for a TD by a true freshman at Oregon since freshman eligibility was restored in the early 1970s.
Marcus Mariota sits sixth all-time in career passing yards at Oregon with 6,609 yards and needs just 73 yards to pass Chris Miller (1983-86) for fifth and 303 yards to pass Joey Harrington (1998-01) for fourth.

Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich knew the comparisons would be inevitable – how do you replace arguably the most successful football coach in school history? His answer was simple – by being Mark Helfrich. That formula proved to be successful in 2013. In guiding the Ducks to a first-year mark of 11-2 and a 30-7 Alamo Bowl triumph over Texas, the number of wins equaled three others for the conference record for success by a first-year head coach as well as surpassed his predecessor Chip Kelly’s previous Oregon pinnacle for most wins by a rookie head coach. In addition, Helfrich joined Ducks’ alum John Robinson (USC, 1976) as the league’s only other coach to win a bowl games in his inaugural season. Only four other squads in school history have ever won as many as 11 football games in a single season (2001, 2010, 2011, 2012) – the former Oregon graduate assistant coach (1997) made it a fifth. Helfrich helped orchestrate the continuation of the program’s offensive firepower last season as the Ducks led the league in total offense (2nd in the country) for the fourth year in a row, in scoring offense (4th in the nation) for the seventh straight season, and in rushing (9th nationally) for the eighth time in many years. The transition to head coach has been a relatively smooth one. Six of the assistant coaches who played key roles in the program’s trio of conference championships in the past five years remain, as do three of the assistants who have called Eugene home for more than two decades. As a result of the change there really has been little change at all. The 40-year-old Oregon native was appointed the school’s 32nd head football coach on Jan. 20, 2013, following a quartet of seasons as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during the program’s most prolific era in school history. Oregon tallied a 46-7 ledger and four BCS bowl appearances from 2009-12.

Marcus Mariota is coming off arguably the best back-to-back seasons by a quarterback in Oregon history. In 2013, the redshirt junior from Honolulu more than met the challenge of following up a rookie campaign that saw him set the Pac-12 freshman record for touchdown passes (32) and lead the conference in passing efficiency (seventh nationally) en route to Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and all-Pac-12 first team QB honors. His encore as a sophomore included 3,665 yards passing and 715 rushing with 40 total touchdowns (31 pass, 9 rush) and just four interceptions. Mariota ranked seventh nationally in pass efficiency rating (167.66), ninth in points responsible for per game (18.8) and total offense (336.9 ypg), and 11th in yards per carry (7.45). A Heisman Trophy candidate for most of the season, Mariota was a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award (most outstanding player), the Davey O’Brien Award (national quarterback award) and Walter Camp Award (most outstanding player). He was also on the watch list for the Manning Award (top quarterback honor, including bowl game).

ESPN College GameDay will produce its weekly college football preview show from the University of Oregon Saturday, marking the ninth appearance in Eugene by the immensely popular show which features host Chris Fowler along with analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack. The live broadcast (6-9 a.m. PT) will originate from the Memorial Quad on campus. Oregon, the only school to host GameDay five consecutive years, makes it six straight on Saturday. The Ducks boast a 6-2 record when the show airs from Eugene, with their only defeats coming vs. No. 18 Stanford in overtime in 2012 and against No. 6 Cal, 31-24, in 2007. Last year a second-ranked Oregon squad took down No. 12 UCLA, 42-14. Other home wins in front of GameDay were the No. 9 Ducks over No. 18 Arizona State in 2011 (41-27), a 52-31 victory over No. 9 Stanford in 2010 (UO was No. 4), a 47-20 Halloween upset of fourth-ranked USC in ‘09 (UO was No. 10), a 35-23 win vs. No. 6 Arizona State in ‘07 (UO was No. 4) and a 29-10 upset of No. 6 UCLA in 2000 (UO was unranked).

Marcus Mariota continued his streak of passing touchdowns with three in Oregon’s season opening 62-13 win over South Dakota last Saturday. The junior has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 27 games of his career, totaling 66 scores through the air. Mariota, who had 31 touchdown passes in 2013, has thrown for two or more TDs in a game 19 times with a career-high six touchdown passes at California as a freshman. He also has thrown four or more touchdowns in a game six times. Mariota’s 26-game touchdown pass streak is the second-longest in the nation behind Marshall’s Rakeem Cato.

Active TD Pass Streaks
Player (School) Streak Next Opponent (Date)
1. Rakeem Cato (Marshall) 33 vs. Rhode Island (Sept. 6)
2. Marcus Mariota (Oregon) 27 vs. Michigan State (Sept. 6)

Marcus Mariota has shown during his first two seasons at the helm of the Oregon offense that he is among the elite signal callers in Ducks’ history. The junior moved into a tie with Darron Thomas (2008-11) for first all-time in TD passes when he threw three against South Dakota in the season opener. Mariota should add another school record early in Saturday’s game against Michigan State. He has 8,119 yards of total offense and needs just 22 more yards to break Bill Musgrave’s (1987-90) school record of 8,140 yards. The Honolulu native also sits sixth all-time in career passing yards at Oregon with 6,609 yards and needs just 73 yards to pass Chris Miller (1983-86) for fifth and 303 yards to pass Joey Harrington (1998-01) for fourth. Musgrave is the career leader in passing with 8,343 yards, 1,734 more than Mariota.

While most teams are lucky to have one quality back to carry the load on offense, the Ducks have three tailbacks who are listed as starters on the depth chart. Junior Byron Marshall, sophomore Thomas Tyner and true freshman Royce Freeman share the workload in the backfield while giving opposing defenses three different back to prepare for in the game plan. Marshall, Tyner and Freeman were as good as advertised in the opener against South Dakota combining for 412 yards of total offense. Marshall led the way with 228 yards (138 receiving, 90 rushing), while Tyner added 98 (64 rushing, 8 receiving, 26 kick returns) and Freeman chipped in 86 yards (75 rushing, 11 receiving).

Byron Marshall had a couple of career firsts against South Dakota after setting career highs for receptions (8) and yards receiving (138) against the Coyotes. The junior running back finished with his first career 100-yard receiving game, while also catching his first career touchdown pass (he ended with 2 TD catches). Marshall also put together his second career 200-yard all-purpose game with 228 total yards. He had a career-high 246 all-purpose yards in a win over Washington State last season.

The 2014 Oregon roster has 48 letterwinners, including 16 starters - 10 on offense and six on defense - from last season. By contrast, the 2013 squad had 56 returning lettermen and 16 starters.

Youth will be a big part of Oregon’s success in 2014. Ten true freshman (Tanner Carew, Tyrell Crosby, Royce Freeman, Justin Hollins, Austin Maloata, Henry Mondeaux, Charles Nelson, Aidan Schneider, Arrion Springs, and Jimmie Swain) saw action in the Ducks’ season-opening win over South Dakota last Sunday. The 10 rookies made a contribution scoring three touchdowns, kicking six extra points, and making 11 tackles. The last time the Ducks played 10 true freshman was 2007. Last season six saw the field, eight in 2012, seven in 2011 and five in 2010.

Of Oregon’s eight drives resulting in touchdowns against South Dakota, six (75 percent) last two minutes or less. The other two drives lasted 2:12 and 4:19. Last season, of Oregon’s 74 drives resulting in touchdowns, 49 (66.2 percent) lasted two minutes or less. The Ducks’ two longest TD drives of 2013 came against UCLA with their first scoring march lasting 4:00 and the last eating up 4:55.

Since 2000, Oregon is 35-6 in regular season, out-of-conference contests, earning notable victories against the likes of Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Michigan (x2). During that stretch, the Ducks are 3-1 against the SEC, 5-2 vs. the Big Ten, 1-1 vs. the Big 12, 4-0 against the Mountain West, 12-2 vs. the WAC, 2-0 against Conference USA and 7-0 vs. FCS teams.

An often overlooked facet of Oregon’s run of success has been the continuity of its coaching staff. Second-year head coach Mark Helfrich is in his sixth season on staff, but he is supported by several assistants who have served the last three UO head coaches. Running backs coach Gary Campbell is in his 32nd year on the Oregon staff, which is the longest tenure of any Oregon assistant football coach in school history. In addition, offensive line coach and running game coordinator Steve Greatwood enters his 28th season at UO, while recently promoted defensive coordinator Don Pellum is in his 22nd campaign.

With a standing room only crowd of 57,388 at Autzen Stadium last Saturday against South Dakota, the Ducks ran the nation’s third-longest sellout streak to 97 consecutive games (cap. 54,000), dating to 1999.

Consecutive Final AP Poll Appearances
No. Team Last Yr out (Record)
7 Oregon 2006 (7-6, NR)
6 Alabama 2007 (7-6, NR)
5 LSU 2008 (8-5, RV)

A staple of Oregon’s blur offense in recent years has been “explosion plays” of 25 yards or more from scrimmage. The Ducks started the season with seven against South Dakota, with three of those finishing in the end zone. Last season the Ducks racked up 67, with 21 resulting in touchdowns.

62 - Stanford rec. vs. SD (Mariota)*
53 - Marshall rush vs. SD
41 - Marshall rec. vs. SD (Mariota)*
34 - Carrington rec. vs. SD (Mariota)
28 - P. Brown rec. vs. SD (Lockie)
26 - Freeman rush vs. SD*
25 - Marshall rec. vs. SD (Mariota)
* indicates touchdown

Pharaoh Brown, Jr., TE
•Mackey Award (tight end)

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Sr., CB
•Walter Camp Award (player of the year)
•Bednarik Award (defensive player)
•Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player)
•Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back)

Jake Fisher, Sr., OT
•Outland Trophy (interior lineman)

Hroniss Grasu, Sr., C
•Outland Trophy (interior lineman)
•Rimington Trophy (center)
•Rotary Lombardi Award (lineman/linebacker)

Tyler Johnstone, Jr., OT
•Outland Trophy (interior lineman)
•Rotary Lombardi Award (lineman/linebacker)

Derrick Malone Jr., Sr., ILB
•Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player)
•Butkus Award (linebacker)
•Rotary Lombardi Award (lineman/linebacker)

Marcus Mariota, Jr., QB
•Walter Camp Award (player of the year)
•Maxwell Award (player of the year)
•Davey O’Brien Award (quarterback)

Byron Marshall, Jr., RB
•Maxwell Award (player of the year)
•Doak Walker Award (running back)

Johnny Mundt, So., TE
•Mackey Award (tight end)

Thomas Tyner, So., RB
•Maxwell Award (player of the year)
•Doak Walker Award (running back)

Tony Washington, Sr., OLB
•Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player)

  • Game preview: Oregon ready top-10 matchup with Michigan State
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