Eugene, OR – Few teams looked more impressive in week one than did the fourth-ranked Oregon Ducks, and they will try to build upon that momentum when they play host to the Fresno State Bulldogs this Saturday.
Fresno State made sure to make Tim DeRuyter's debut as head coach a memorable one, as it defeated FCS foe Weber State in its season opener, 37-10.
"It is totally different when it is your program not for just one game," DeRutyer said of his first game. "I was just happy with our staff, the way our players performed. We got a lot of work to do to get better, but I was very, very pleased with them and of their hard work."
The road gets much more difficult for DeRuyter and company however, as the Bulldogs haven't defeated a ranked opponent since 2004 when they beat No. 18 Virginia in the MPC Computers Bowl.
Oregon's opening game against Arkansas State was never in doubt as it scored the game's first 29 points, all in the first quarter. The Ducks lead eventually ballooned to 50-3 midway through the second quarter and they went on to win, 57-34. Despite the team's great success under head coach Chip Kelly, the win marks only the second time in four seasons it has won the season opener (31-2 in all other regular season games).
The Ducks have a 6-2 advantage in the all-time series against Fresno State, which includes a 4-1 mark in Eugene. The Bulldogs have lost five straight in the series, although four of those five losses have been decided by a touchdown or less.
The Fresno State offense moved the ball with ease against Weber State in its lidlifter, piling up 515 yards -- more than any other season opener in the past 10 years. The unit was efficient as well, scoring on all four of its trips to the red zone.
Derek Carr was practically flawless, completing 20-of-25 passes for 298 yards, tossing two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Both of Carr's touchdown passes went to Davante Adams, who led the team with seven catches and 118 yards in his first collegiate game. Both of Adams' scores came on plays down the field (27 and 38 yards, respectively).
The running game was on point as well, paced by 22 carries, 123 yards, and two touchdowns from Robbie Rouse. It was his 13th career 100-yard game and he needs just 194 yards to pass Ron Rivers on the program's all-time rushing list.
The defense held up its end of the bargain as well, allowing Weber State to gain 274 total yards, including a mere 67 on the ground.
Derron Smith and Patrick Su'a each recorded eight tackles to the lead the Bulldogs. Su'a also had a sack, one of four for the team. Sean Alston added three tackles and an interception.
The Oregon offense got off to a blazing start to the season, scoring seven touchdowns in just over a quarter and a half of action. By game's end, the unit racked up 605 total yards, with a near-even split between passing yards (308) and rushing yards (297).
Freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota showed why Kelly anointed him the team's starter in the preseason. He was nearly perfect with his passes, finishing 18- of-22 with 200 yards and three touchdowns. He also proved to be a weapon in the running game, netting 24 yards on four attempts. He was eventually spelled for back-up Bryan Bennett (10-of-17, 108 yards, one TD, one INT).
"The game in itself, it was fun," Mariota said of his debut. "I can't really explain it any more than that. I would have liked to play a little bit more, but that's the competitive nature in me."
Despite the success of the Ducks' rushing attack, it was a very balanced effort with no one accumulating more than Kenjon Barner's 66 yards. Byron Marshall carried the ball 24 times for 64 yards and a score, and Barner also added two rushing touchdowns.
Oregon's most dynamic playmaker is without question De'Anthony Thomas, and he proved to be a defensive coordinator's nightmare yet again in the opener. Thomas led the team with four catches for 55 yards, with Mariota finding him on two touchdown strikes. He was also a factor in the run game, gaining 64 yards on just three carries, highlighted by 33-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
The Ducks defense played well when it mattered most, holding Arkansas State (which led the Sun Belt Conference in scoring last year) to just one first- half touchdown. After the game was well in hand however, the defensive numbers slipped and the unit eventually allowed more than 500 yards of total offense.
"We gave up a lot of points," Barner said. "Whether it was the starters or not, we have to do better than that."
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu led the team with six tackles and also forced a fumble. John Boyett had an interception, but the unit didn't create any sacks.