It never comes easy for Oregon, but Ducks’ playoff hopes remain alive after surviving UCLA

It is by no means simple for these Geese. Their offensive coordinator endured emergency surgical procedure this season. Accidents have ravaged key contributors. A migraine virtually sidelined the beginning operating again Saturday throughout warmups. The quarterback has been booed at residence, the famously loyal patrons calling for his backup.

So when No. 10 Oregon cruised to a 17-point lead early within the fourth quarter on the Rose Bowl, there was a sense — lastly — that it might get one thing near a laugher.

No such Duck luck.

It wasn’t till UCLA backup quarterback Ethan Garbers tossed an interception to Oregon cornerback DJ James with 48 seconds to go that the Geese survived. Once more. Oregon gained 34-31 and stayed safely balanced on the tightrope it has created.

Contemplating the margin of error — there may be none at this level — a theme is creating on this unusual Oregon season: Assume nothing.

The Geese have performed seven video games, 5 of which have been determined by a landing or much less. On Saturday, they trailed by 14 after the primary quarter. Then, over a span of 29:53, Oregon outscored UCLA 34-3 to take a 17-point lead with lower than 14 minutes to play.

Nevertheless it was not going to be simple. After all not.

Geese QB Anthony Brown, the one who was booed final week, tossed a few late interceptions to permit UCLA again into the sport.

“It has been a theme of the 12 months,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal mentioned of his group’s survival instincts. “Hopefully, we’re placing a cease to that after this sport. This group, its leaders, its gamers, they are a particular, particular bunch. They’re simply resilient. They simply maintain coming.”

The Geese have been simple to dismiss since that Week 2 win at Ohio State. The pollsters definitely did. Someway the No. 5 Buckeyes got here into Saturday 5 spots forward of Oregon within the AP High 25 regardless of solely having overwhelmed Rutgers, Akron and Maryland earlier than dealing with Indiana on Saturday night time.

You marvel how the voters will attempt to discredit this win.

Earlier than the sport, Oregon operating again Travis Dye complained of a migraine. This after the Geese’ main rusher (and finest offensive participant) CJ Verdell had already been misplaced for the season. Additionally throughout pregame, heart Alex Forsyth (Oregon’s finest offensive lineman) was injured and could not go.

“When the coach faucets you on the shoulder and says, ‘Travis has a migraine,’ I used to be ready for the punchline,” Cristobal mentioned.

Dye’s mic drop was not solely taking part in however speeding for 4 touchdowns, which he scored on 4 consecutive carries, setting a brand new FBS file within the course of. Brown had maybe the sport of his profession throwing for 296 yards and speeding for 85 extra.

“I ought to have been taking part in like this for some time, however the truth that got here in a giant second was vital,” mentioned Brown, a Boston College switch.

All of it was a tribute to offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who was again within the coaches’ sales space after what he known as “emergency main surgical procedure” two weeks in the past. Moorhead was absent for the one sport Oregon has misplaced — in time beyond regulation at Stanford — this season.

The Geese protection that tied a season-high permitting 31 factors but in addition obtained 4 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Preseason All-American defensive finish Kayvon Thibodeaux doubtless had the sport of his profession with 9 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and one pressured fumble. It was Thibodeaux’s rag-dolling of UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson that pressured Garbers into the sport.

“Proper now, I am exhausted,” Thibodeaux mentioned. “Proper now, I really feel like I am operating low on sugar.”

The Bruins simply ran … 91 performs in coach Chip Kelly’s hurry-up offense. After all, Duck tongues had been dragging.

“They really imagine that there is no such thing as a play, no circumstance, no unhealthy name that we won’t overcome,” Cristobal mentioned.

It should make a heck of documentary if the two-time defending Pac-12 champions take it up a notch and get to the College Football Playoff. The preseason Pac-12 favourite remains to be that however with an added burden. By shifting to 6-1, the Geese are by far the league’s finest CFP hope.

Someplace within the Pac-12 workplaces in San Francisco, they’re celebrating — possibly it is extra like exhaling — after Saturday’s win.

With the victory, Oregon stays alive in that CFP dialog by means of Week 8. Everybody else within the league has no less than two losses, which implies the Geese should win out and the league should hope. The Pac-12 has been in precisely one of many final 5 CFPs and two of seven general.

“Actually, I believe we’re over that stuff,” Cristobal mentioned. “I am being 100% clear and sincere. Our guys have a grasp: It is about right this moment. Once we get away from that, we create points.”

The accidents have made an impression. Thibodeaux himself has confronted exhausting occasions staying on the sector. Brown has problem staying on the best aspect of the followers. Eight days in the past at residence in opposition to Cal, followers grew to become pissed off on the quarterback whereas the moribund Bears got here round. In that one, the protection bailed out the Geese within the ultimate minute of a 24-17 win.

Brown appeared inside himself through the week.

“All people is entitled to their very own opinion. They’ll say what they wish to say,” he mentioned. “We will solely management what we do in our constructing and on the sector.”

Possibly, simply possibly, there may be room for the Geese to exhale. They do not play one other group with a successful file till going to Utah on Nov. 20. By that point, it could be a preview of the Pac-12 Championship Recreation … or the Pac-12 might once more be out of the playoff dialogue. | It by no means comes simple for Oregon, however Geese’ playoff hopes stay alive after surviving UCLA


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