There was one common theme in this game: Oregon Ducks star quarterback Marcus Mariota being on his back. The sophomore quarterback was battered and bruised by the Stanford Cardinal‘s defense in what was a rough day for the Ducks’ usually well oiled machine of an offense.
It just never seemed like the Ducks could get anything going. The run game was rendered useless, and Mariota missed some great opportunities in the passing games. We don’t see the usually pin point accurate quarterback miss open targets, but he did on this night. The Ducks had a chance to take a lead early in the game if Mariota just hit a wide open Josh Huff deep down field.
Mariota failed to do so. It looked like the threat of an oncoming rush really got to the young quarterback’s head. The Cardinal were relentless in their pursuit of Mariota and it contributed to his indecisiveness.
This effectively ruins the Ducks’ BCS National Championship hopes and Mariota’s Heisman campaign. They were right behind Jameis Winston and Florida State, but a win against a top five team on the road clearly would have vaulted them past the Seminoles.
The Cardinal are Duck Killers. They have ended this Ducks squad’s title hopes for two straight seasons now. The biggest development in this game for me, besides the resurgence of the Cardinal’s defense, was Mariota’s strange off evening.
He hasn’t played this way many time in his young career; it makes you wonder if questions will be raised about how he performs against top competition. While it is possible, the kid is still so young; at 19, he isn’t even old enough to have a beer yet. I think he will be fine and is still a top prospect going into next year’s draft.
For now, the Ducks’ season was dashed and the Cardinal have put themselves in the Title Game conversation. College football season is just starting to heat up.