Marcus Mariota continued to make his Heisman case by completing 23 of his 33 attempted passes for 456 yards and four touchdowns to torch Tennessee’s secondary, while also adding 27 rushing yards and a touchdown. The redshirt freshman continues to run the Ducks’ up-tempo offense like clockwork. Running back De’Anthony Thomas rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown, along with a lone catch for 28 yards. In total, the Ducks leave behind a gassed Volunteer defense that gave up 667 total yards of offense, as the Ducks put up 471 passing yards and 216 rushing yards.
The game did not start out as fast as the Ducks would have liked, as the Volunteers put the Ducks in an early 7-0 hole. But it only jump started the pace for Oregon, as Mariota quickly came alive to lead the Ducks to 52 unanswered points before the Volunteers got a late fourth quarter touchdown to put them on double digits.
Mariota became the first Oregon quarterback to throw the ball for over 400 yards since Kellen Clemmens in 2003. He also became just the fourth Ducks quarterback in history to rush for over 4,000 yards. Oregon’s defeat of Tennessee prompted chants of “S-E-C!” and “We Want Bama!”
But can the Ducks reach them?
First-year head coach Mark Helfrich certainly hasn’t been much of a change from former head coach Chip Kelly, who departed to coach the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL. Mariota is one of the main front runners for the Heisman Trophy, and leads arguably the strongest offense in college football. Ranked at No. 2, the Ducks are firmly in the driver’s seat, but the main obstacles for this team will be the UCLA Bruins, who is perhaps the biggest darkhorse in the Pac-12. And then, of course, there’s Stanford, who manages to upset Oregon every season, and has been the only team to slow the pace of Oregon’s up-tempo offense.
But right now, Oregon is on a mission to bring home the National Championship, and take it away from the almighty SEC.