Oregon (2-0) entered the second contest against Fresno State (1-1) looking to validate their performance from the first game against the rebuilding Bulldogs.
Coming off of a victory over Arkansas State that was not even as close as the 57-34 final might have suggested, the Ducks had some questions with their depth. The starters for the Ducks raced to a 50-3 lead in the second quarter of their opening week win before coasting to the victory. Defenseive coordinator nick Aliotti was not happy, though with the defensive effort in the second half of last weeks game.
Fresno0 State jumped to an early 21-0 lead against FCS foe Weber State before coasting to a 37-10 victory. Fresno State was able to run the ball and throw the ball at will in their first contest, but have yet to face a challenge from a defense.
The Bulldog defense looked improved against Weber State giving up just 274 yards after giving up over 435 yards per game a year ago.
On the first drive of the game, Fresno State used a fake punt to move down the field and get into the red zone. A third down sack forced a Bulldog field goal that opened the scoring giving Fresno State an early 3-0 lead.
Oregon, though, took just four plays to march 68 yards to take a 7-3 lead with De'Anthony Thomas taking a pitch from Marcus Mariota for a 39 yard touchdown scamper.
After a three and out by Fresno State, Oregon marched 73 yards in five plays to go up 14-3 and the rout was on for the Ducks.
The running game for Oregon was on display in the first quarter as the team rushed for 155 yards with Kenjon Barner getting 8 carries for 77 yards in the first quarter. "My linemen did a great job blocking, the receivers did a great job blocking downfield and Mariota did a great job drawing defenders away. It was just a good day," Barner told Duck Sports Authority after the game.
Marcus Mariota looked good if not spectacular in the first half completing 11 of 17 passes for 104 yards and one touchdown. But the first half was a story of Oregon's powerful rushing attack which featured two running backs cracking the 100 yard barrier with Barner carrying the ball 17 times for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns while Thomas carried the ball 5 times for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns of his own.
The first turnover of the game went to Fresno State as Mariota attempted to evade a rusher and lost control of the ball fumbling it away to the Bulldogs at the 27 yard line. Fresno State capitalized on the mistake two plays later with an 18 yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Isiah Burse. That cut the lead to 35-13 midway through the third quarter.
After the kickoff, Oregon freshman Bralon Addison fumbled the ball giving Fresno State great field position at the 12 yard line. After completing a fourth down pass to create a first and goal at the one yard line The Bulldogs went backwards and had to settle for a field goal cutting the lead to 35-16.
After a lackluster third quarter, Mariota got the offense rolling with a bootleg right that went for 28 yards. It looked like the offense for the Ducks would roll to another score, but a sack and fumble lost by Mariota gave the ball back to Fresno State.
Asked about the lackluster third quarter, coach Chip Kelly admitted afterward, "we sputtered at times. Hopefully things that are correctable for us. Obviously we put our defense in some difficult positions in the second half giving them a short field like that. We've gotta clean that up. I give Fresno State credit; that's a good football team," coach Kelly continued.
A long run by Robbie Rouse gave the Bulldogs life getting inside the Duck 40 yard line. The Bulldogs were able to extend the drive thanks to a pass interference on third down from the 35 yard line. The Duck defense, once again, stiffened up and held Fresno State to another field goal cutting the Duck lead to 35-19 five minutes into the fourth quarter.
"We talk about that. Response after turnovers is a key thing," Kelly told Duck Sports Authority after the game. "I thought our defense did some real good work for us, especially with the short field," Kelly continued.
The Duck offense finally came to life as Kenjon Barner carried the ball 10 times on the next possession culminating with a 16 yard touchdown run on his 34th carry of the game to carry Barner to his first career 200 yard rushing performance. Barners third touchdown run of the game took the Oregon lead to 42-19 with less than four minutes to play assuring the Ducks their second win of 2012.
After the game, freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota told Duck Sports Authority just how important that last drive was to the team. "To overcome it and have that long drive, just to kinda get things going a little bit after we struggled was very good for us, that's going to help us down the road," Mariota said.
The game was not as easy as some had predicted as Fresno State played tough on defense and won the turnover battle taking three fumbles away from Oregon while taking care of the football without a turnover in the game. First year head coach Tim DeRuyter maintained a pledge to play the game at Oregon's pace which the Bulldogs did running a hurry-up offense for most of the game.
The Duck defense, though, was able to turn back most of the Bulldogs efforts and keep the Fresno State offense largely in check.
Derek Carr aired the ball out attempting 48 passes for the Bulldogs. For the game, Carr completed 30 of 48 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown. The Bulldogs did not have much success on the ground gaining just 132 yards on 32 carries. Rouse, who led the WAC with 1,549 yards last season carried the ball 27 times for 115 yards and one touchdown. Fresno State scored a late touchdown to cut the Oregon margin of victory to 42-25.
Oregon's offense rolled up 540 yards including 380 on the ground en route to the 17 point win.
Senior running back Kenjon Barner summed up the game afterward admitting, "Fresno State did a great job adjusting at halftime and we kinda game out like we had the game in hand. We didn't come out with the same intensity as we came out with in that first half and that's something we have to learn from."
Next week Oregon hoses Tennessee Tech (2-0) at 12:00 Saturday.