This weekend the Cougars play host to the Oregon Ducks at Martin Stadium for the first time since 2010. The Cougars have not beat Oregon since 2006 when they upset the 16th ranked Ducks 34-23. Before that it had been since 2003 when the Cougars went into Eugene and beat them 55-16, the Ducks were ranked #10 at the time.
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Oregon has been in the mix for the national championship for multiple years now and most people know what they are getting into when they play the yellow and gold, but I will give a quick view of who and what we will see on Saturday.
The Ducks are led behind Heisman front-runner Marcus Mariota and the speedy running game. After scoring 46 points against then 7th ranked Michigan State, the ducks put up 48 on Wyoming. The 46 points they scored against Michigan State was the fewest they scored all season. The 52 points they average is good enough for 5th in the nation and trail the top spot by only 7 points. They are also top 30 in both rushing and passing yards per game with 243 rushing yards (29) and 330.3 passing yards (18) per game.
Sep 6, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) hands the ball off to Oregon Ducks running back Thomas Tyner (24) against the Michigan State Spartans at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Mariota has 806 passing yards on 50 of 71 passing and has 8 touchdowns through the air. While throwing for more than 11 yards an attempt, he also has 0 interceptions on the season. Jeff Lockie is the Ducks backup quarterback and sees a lot of playing time since they take an early lead and don’t look back. Lockie is 17/20 and has 185 yards passing with 1 touchdown on the season.
The Ducks have 5 players that have over 100 receiving yards and 6 receivers that have at least 1 touchdown. Byron Marshall is the leading receiver with 190 yards on 12 catches and has 2 touchdowns. Mariota spreads the ball around and has Darren Carrington, Devon Allen, Keanon Lowe, and Dwayne Stanford to all count on as well. Carrington has the second most receiving yards on the team with 172 yards on 9 catches. The team’s leader in receiving touchdowns, Allen, has 3 touchdowns on 7 receptions for 157 yards. Both Lowe and Stanford each have 1 touchdown with Lowe having 10 more yards than Stanford at 117.
On the ground, the Ducks are just as scary with 4 players having over 150 yards rushing and 6 different players with at least 1 touchdown. The leading rusher on the team is also the player with the most rushing touchdowns, Royce Freeman. He has 186 yards on 28 carries and has 5 touchdowns to go along with that. Marshall, who is the leading receiver, is also the teams second rusher with 179 yards on 19 carries and has another touchdown.
Not only is Mariota deadly through the air, but he can hurt you on the ground just as easily. He has racked up 156 yards on 20 carries and has 3 more touchdowns on the ground. Thomas Tyner is the teams 3rd best true running back with 155 yards on 25 carries and also has a touchdown.
The offensive line for the Ducks has been hit with a few dings so far this season as they have lost both their right and left tackles due to injuries and have had to use inexperience at the positions.
Defensive back Reggie Daniels is the teams leading tackler with 21 total and has defensive lineman DeForest Buckner right behind him with 17 tackles. Linebackers Derrick Malone Jr. and Arik Armstead are the 3rd and 4th leading tacklers with 14 for Malone and 15 for Armstead. Defensive backs Erik Dargan (14), Tyree Robinson (13), and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (11) are also some of their leading tacklers.
Sep 6, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (14) catches the ball before the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Ekpre-Olomu is one of the most athletic players on the defense and has shown that he can do that with this interception against Michigan State. Although he doesn’t have many of the stats to back it up, he has proven to be a leader on the defense and is also the punt returner for them. He was an all-american last season as well.
Dargan has had 3 interceptions in three games so far this season and has the ability to get more during any game. Ekpre-Olomu has only had that one interception.
As a team, the Ducks have combined for 11 sacks this season including 2 from linebacker Tyson Coleman. Torrodney Prevot and Christian French, both linebackers, each have 1.5 sacks this season. Defensive lineman Alex Balducci and Armstead each have 1 sack while defensive backs, Juwaan Williams and Dior Mathis, each have 1 as well.
Linebacker Tony Washington was injured in last weeks game and sat out of practice Tuesday. He is still listed as the starter but that could be dependent on how practice goes this week. Like the offense, the defense has had some issues with injuries this season but should be returning mostly all of their starters.
The Oregon defense has allowed 18 points per game this season and have allowed most of those points in the first half. The Ducks defense really kicks in in the second half of the game and stops the offense and allows their offense to take the game away so they can coast the rest of the game.