Published November 20, 2014
LaMichael James ran for 204 yards and three touchdowns, including a 90-yarder, and No. 12 Oregon cruised to a 56-7 victory over Missouri State on Saturday.
James' 90-yard dash was Oregon's longest run since 1938. The Heisman Trophy finalist from last season also had a 1-yard TD in the first quarter and a 50-yarder in the third.
Darron Thomas threw for 206 yards and three touchdowns for the Ducks (2-1). Lavasier Tuinei caught scoring passes of 8 and 34 yards, and Oregon sat most of its starters early in the second half.
Missouri State (0-3) scored on its first possession. The Bears were efficient in a nine-play, 84-yard drive that was capped by Chris Douglas' 3-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0. By halftime, though, the Ducks were ahead 35-7.
James now has 42 career touchdowns at Oregon, matching the school record set by Derek Loville (1986-89).
Before the game, Oregon announced it had received a formal notice of inquiry from the NCAA regarding its use of recruiting services. The investigation was prompted by questions raised over a $25,000 payment Oregon made to Willie Lyles and Houston-based Complete Scouting Services.
Saturday's opponent was supposed to be Utah, but that game was changed because of the Pac-12 realignment. Oregon was left scrambling for an opponent and the Bears stepped in.
Missouri State will be paid $440,000 for visiting Autzen Stadium. The Bears also visited Arkansas in their opener and made $395,000 in a 51-7 loss.
Oregon scored twice in the first quarter on James' 1-yard run and Thomas' 8-yard scoring pass to Tuinei.
Oregon freshman De'Anthony Thomas topped 100 all-purpose yards in the first quarter alone on one punt return, one kickoff return, one rush and a reception.
Oregon made it 21-7 on Thomas's 7-yard touchdown pass to freshman Colt Lyerla, on a drive that spanned 93 yards on three plays in 37 seconds.
While that was fast, it couldn't compare to James' 90-yard scoring run a short time later. That drive took all of 13 seconds. The longest run in school history was Bob Smith's 92-yarder against Idaho in 1938.
Thomas' second scoring pass to Tuinei came with 5:33 to go before the half. Thomas matched a school record with six touchdown passes the week before in a 69-20 victory over Nevada.
James opened the second half with a 50-yard scoring run.
The running back had been held to 54 yards in Oregon's season-opening 40-27 loss to then-No. 4 LSU. Then last week against the Wolf Pack he ran for 67 yards, but scored on a run, a reception and a punt return.
James averaged more than 144 rushing yards a game last season. After Saturday's performance, he upped his average this season to 108.3 yards.
Oregon backup Bryan Bennett hit Lyerla with a 26-yard TD pass and Eric Dungy with a 22-yard scoring strike to make it 56-7 in the third quarter after the starters left. Dungy, a redshirt freshman, is the son of former NFL coach Tony Dungy.
Kiko Alonso got the start at linebacker for the Ducks, a week after coming off suspension for offseason legal trouble. Alonso started at linebacker in place of Michael Clay, who injured his ankle last week.
Cornerback and kick returner Cliff Harris, also reinstated last week from an indefinite suspension, came into the game in the second quarter.
Missouri State, which has not gone 0-3 to start a season since 1994, had never played the Ducks.