EUGENE, OR – The 14th ranked Oregon Ducks (10-2) defeated in-state rival Oregon State (5-7) 24-10 Saturday, their 11th victory out of the schools’ last 12 meetings.
With a win, Oregon State would have become bowl eligible for the first time since 2013 but had an uphill battle from the start after their starting quarterback Jake Luton was unexpectedly held out of the game due to a forearm injury.
Oregon’s offense continued to struggle, converting just 3/14 attempts on third down. In his first start for the Beavers, sophomore Nebraska transfer Tristan Gebbia outperformed Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert, completing 26/40 (65%) passes for 243 yards, to Herbert’s 18/30 (60%) for 174 yards.
Despite the struggles offensively, Oregon’s special teams and defense were enough to secure the victory, and Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal simply explained “[In] rivalry games… you find a way to win”. Mykael Wright provided support to the Oregon’s struggling offense with a 98-yardkick return in the first quarter, and Justin Herbert was able to find Johnny Johnson III for a 28-yard TD pass early in the second, but the Ducks would go another 40 minutes and 20 seconds before scoring again.
Oregon looked to extend their lead to two scores with 7:40 left in the 4th quarter, but Jaylon Redd fumbled while crossing the goal line on a 7-yard rush, which resulted in a touchback. The Beavers then found themselves down only one score at 10-17 and had two series where they looked to tie the game. The second of which was ended quickly after Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson fumbled attempting to hurdle cornerback Thomas Graham Jr., which was ultimately recovered by Oregon safety Brady Breeze.
When Mario Cristobal joined the Oregon coaching staff in 2017, the Ducks were coming off their worst season since 1991, and Duck fans who had been spoiled with 2 National Championship appearances in the last decade quickly became fearful that the dark days of Oregon Football were returning quicker than they were ready for.Instead, Cristobal turned the program back in the right direction in only two years as head coach.
With College Football Playoff aspirations intact as recent as a week ago, it’s easy to view the 2019 season as a failure for the Ducks. In reality, this season has been one of the best in program history. After competing in his final game at Autzen Stadium, Justin Herbert stated “To go 4-8 our Freshman year, that’s something that we talked about, to be playing in the Pac-12 Championship. It’s been a great ride”.
The Ducks will travel to Santa Clara next week to compete in the Pac-12 Championship against the No. 6 Utah Utes, and with a victory would end up competing in the Rose Bowl for only the 7th time in program history.