The Oregon Ducks headed to Boulder to take on the Colorado Buffaloes without one of their top playmakers as De’Anthony Thomas watched from the sideline with an ankle injury. Mark Helfrich didn’t have to worry long about the status of his offense, though, as Marcus Mariota stepped up to pick up the slack and lead the Oregon attack. He not only guided the Ducks to a win on the road to keep Oregon’s perfect record intact, he took the game over and dismantled the Buffs’ defense almost single-handedly.
After a slow start that led to a three-and-out for Oregon to start the game, Mariota found his rhythm. He led a nine-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a two yard run for the Oregon quarterback that marked the first of many touchdowns on the day. With the game at a tight 15-10 with two minutes to go in the first quarter, Mariota threw two touchdown passes before the end of the first frame to push the Oregon advantage to 29-10.
In the second quarter, Mariota led another pair of long, impressive drives including a 12-play 67-yard drive and an 11-play, 92-yard drive that found the endzone thanks to the Ducks’ quarterback. After halftime, Mariota picked up right where he left off and threw another pair of quick touchdown strikes in the third quarter to push the Oregon lead to a huge 57-16 advantage. At that point, Helfrich had seen enough and pulled his starting quarterback with more than six minutes to go in the third quarter.
Mariota finished the day completing 16 of 27 passes for 355 yards and five touchdowns through the air while rushing for 43 yards on seven carries with another pair of touchdowns on the ground. His seven total touchdowns were more than enough to blow out the overmatched Colorado defense and will make an impact on the sophomore quarterback’s Heisman Trophy campaign.
His ability to make plays with his arm and his legs makes the Oregon offense as dynamic as any other team in the country and gives the Ducks’ a chance to score on every snap. Oregon has the opportunity to go all the way to a BCS National Championship appearance this season and Mariota will be the key piece that gets them there.