No. 9 Oregon bounces back with 24-17 win over Cal

Eugene, OR – The No. 9 Oregon Ducks were able to breathe a sigh of relief after pulling off a 24-17 win over the California Golden Bears on Friday night. This result allowed the Ducks to continue their playoff hopes.

“Well it was just a really gutsy performance. Again it was a battle. I think all conference games are battles and with Cal its been some really tight football games, said Oregon coach Mario Cristobal.

All photos by Megan Connelly / fi360 News

Cal (1-5, 0-3 Pac-12) arrived at Autzen Stadium with a 1-4 record and was looking to gain bowl eligibility for the first time since 2019. The Ducks (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) were coming off a bye week and were the favorites, but their offense left a lot to be desired for most of the game. Twenty four is tied for the lowest amount of points Oregon has scored this season. 

Part of this was the Golden Bears defense doing a good job. Cal was able to force two turnovers in the first two quarters. That is the same amount of total turnovers the Ducks had in their previous five games. 

Photo by Brianne Ingram / fi360 News

The home team took an early 3-0 lead, but Cal registered the first touchdown of the game and wrapped up the first quarter with a 7-3 advantage. Oregon grabbed its first touchdown of the game with 5:17 left in the second quarter thanks to an 11-yard rush by Travis Dye. 

One of the Ducks’ strengths this season has been rushing. They are one of just three teams in the country to rush for at least 180 yards in each game, and Friday was no different. They picked up 210 rushing yards against Cal, with Dye being responsible for 145 of these. Coming into the game, the junior running back was going to be a key player since CJ Verdell suffered a season-ending injury against Stanford. 

By halftime, Oregon had a small 10-7 lead. The Ducks weren’t able to score in the third quarter, but their defense only allowed a field goal for the Golden Bears. Cal scored first in the last period, but then Oregon finally showed up. 

“So all in all I’m proud of the effort and the toughness to play a game like that and see it through because when you’re backed up that far and they had multiple opportunities to punch it in our defense found a way to get it done,” said Cristobal.

Senior quarterback Anthony Brown didn’t have a great performance during the first three quarters; he redeemed himself in the fourth. Brown threw a 20-yard pass to Jaylon Redd for a touchdown that helped tie the game at 17 points as the clock read 11:23. He then went on to score the winning touchdown with an 11-yard rush with under five minutes remaining. 

It looked like Oregon had it in the bag, but the Ducks were caught celebrating with 10 seconds left on the clock before realizing it was 3rd and goal for Cal. With five seconds remaining, the away team was only two yards away from the game-tying touchdown. Luckily for the Ducks, the Golden Bears last possession resulted in an incomplete pass by Chase Garbers.

“We have worked it really hard, and it has not paid off like we expected it to,” said Cristobal.

Up next, Oregon will take on UCLA on the road on Saturday, Oct. 23.