If nothing else, No. 7 Oregon has plenty of experience in close games. Five of the Ducks’ seven games have been decided by a touchdown or less, including three in a row.
The fact that Oregon has won four of those five close games has the Ducks in the top 10. Oregon (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) overcame a 14-point deficit, almost blew a 17-point lead and needed a DJ James interception with 51 seconds to play to finish a 34-31 win over UCLA at the Rose Bowl last Saturday.
The Ducks host Colorado Saturday afternoon in Eugene, Ore., perhaps hoping for a less stressful afternoon of football. But at the very least, head coach Mario Cristobal likes the type of team he has.
“This team, its leaders, its players, they’re a special, special bunch,” Cristobal said via the school’s athletic website. “They’re just resilient. They just keep coming. They truly believe there’s no play, no circumstance, no bad call, no injury we can’t overcome.”
During the game, the Ducks lost offensive lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson, defensive lineman Mase Funa and defensive back Dontae Manning to injuries. Powers-Johnson could miss a few weeks, but Funa and Manning are expected back to play the Buffaloes (2-5, 1-3 Pac-12).
Other hobbled Ducks include starting center Alex Forsyth, who appears closer to a return from a back injury.
But the Ducks showed the strength of their level of talent and roster depth in continuing to win and carry the hopes of the Pac-12 for the College Football Playoff.
Travis Dye, now the lead running back, had only 35 rushing yards but scored four touchdowns in the win over the Bruins. Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux had two sacks and numerous quarterback hurries against the Bruins, continuing his strong play this season.
“We love games like that, being able to be out there playing to the last whistle. It was exciting. There was so much going on. I love it,” Thibodeaux said.
Averaging only 15.1 points per game this season, Colorado faces a stiff challenge. The Buffaloes fell 26-3 at California last Saturday, with quarterback Brendon Lewis passing for only 69 yards and the rushing offense gaining just 35 yards.
Lewis was sacked six times, which bodes well for Thibodeaux and the Oregon front seven.
“That wasn’t the type of game I was expecting at all,” Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell said of the Cal loss, speaking to the Boulder Daily Camera.
The result sparked an immediate staff change. Colorado relieved offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue of his duties on Monday.
“We still have five games remaining in the season and can work hard to do what we can to improve our offensive line play,” Dorrell said. “We have struggled most of the season, and without much consistency up front, it’s been hard to find an identity for our offense. Not all of this is on Mitch, but in the end, it falls on the coaches.”
— Field Level Media