Kenjon Barner runs for 2 scores as No. 2 Oregon routs Colorado 70-14 in tuneup for USC
EUGENE, Ore. – The Oregon Ducks spent all last week saying they weren't looking past Colorado to next weekend's Pac-12 showdown at USC.
So after the second-ranked Ducks easily dispatched the Buffaloes 70-14 on Saturday at Autzen Stadium, it was OK to finally talk about the Trojans.
Well, sort of. USC was still just another "faceless opponent" to undefeated Oregon.
"It's a big game, but we treat every game the same," said redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota, who threw for 136 yards and two touchdowns against Colorado.
The Trojans took some of the drama away from next week's game at L.A. Coliseum, losing at Arizona 39-36 later Saturday afternoon.
Oregon players said they would revel in their victory over Colorado for another day before shifting their focus to the Trojans.
Kenjon Barner rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns, while De'Anthony Thomas rushed for another score and added a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown against the overmatched Buffs. Most of Oregon's offensive starters were pulled by the midway point of the second quarter.
"When you've got Kenjon, De'Anthony, Marcus, you really force people to defend everyone," coach Chip Kelly said.
The Ducks (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) built a 56-0 lead by halftime and their 70 points were the most they'd ever scored against a conference opponent. It was Oregon's 11th straight overall victory dating to a 38-35 loss at home to USC last season.
Colorado freshman Christian Powell rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns for the Buffaloes (1-7, 1-4), who lost their fourth straight.
"Yes, they're a good team. They're fast, they're just what everybody would expect. They're disciplined, they made a lot of plays, they're a great team," Powell said about the Ducks.
The Ducks piled up 617 yards in total offense, including 425 on the ground, and the Buffs simply could not keep up. Colorado went into the game ranked 112th in the nation on defense, allowing an average of 489 yards. Oregon had 447 by halftime.
Colorado has yielded at least 50 points in its last three games, including last weekend's 50-6 loss to USC.
"I've been saying it all week, they (the Ducks) have a great opportunity to hold that crystal ball at the end of the year," Colorado coach Jon Embree said.
Oregon scored twice at the start of the game — on Barner's 1-yard run and Thomas' 9-yard run — before Colorado's offense even got the ball. Mariota added a 5-yard scoring run then hit Bralon Addison with a 16-yard TD all before the first quarter ended.
Barner added a 24-yard scoring run before Thomas' stunning 73-yard punt return gave Oregon a 42-0 lead. The winding sprint to the endzone offered another glimpse of the sophomore's jaw-dropping speed.
"I'm not really one of those guys about stats," Thomas said. "I'm more about wins and being there for my team."
Mariota found Daryle Hawkins with a 7-yard touchdown pass before leaving the game with most of Oregon's other starters.
Backup Ducks quarterback Bryan Bennett added a touchdown on a 6-yard keeper before the break and Oregon's 56 points at halftime were its most since scoring 59 on New Mexico in 2010.
Powell had a 1-yard scoring run early in the third quarter to avoid the shutout for the Buffs, then added a 20-yard TD dash to narrow it to 56-14. Bennett answered with two keepers, from 3 and 17 yards out, for the final margin.
"Once we get everyone on the same page, it's hard to beat this team," Barner said.
Colorado coach Jon Embree started junior quarterback Jordan Webb before putting in sophomore Nick Hirschman. Webb completed seven of 11 passes for 31 yards, while Hirshman finished 7 of 16 for 64 yards.
While Oregon remained at No. 2 in the AP Top 25 this week, the Ducks dropped to No. 4 in the BCS standings, which prompted coach Chip Kelly to quip that perhaps the computers were shut down at night before the Ducks played.
Before Saturday, it was looking as though a victory against USC next weekend would go a long way toward proving that Oregon is worthy of higher standing. The Nov. 3 game at the Coliseum has been touted by many as the most important Pac-12 game of the season — or at least a preview of the conference championship game.
The Trojans fell to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-12 with the loss to the Wildcats.
Last year the then-No. 18 Trojans came to Autzen Stadium and won, dropping the Ducks from No. 4 to No. 9 in the polls and effectively dashing any hopes at a national title bid. USC is considered Oregon's biggest threat again this season.