EUGENE, Ore. — The second-ranked Oregon Ducks are confident about the rest of the season after getting past their most challenging non-conference foe last weekend.
But not too confident.
Coming off a 46-27 victory over then-No. 7 Michigan State last weekend, the Ducks host Wyoming in an unusually early game Saturday at Autzen Stadium. Kickoff is 11 a.m. local time.
“Every team is good.
You see upsets all over the place, teams get beat all the time,” OU running back Byron Marshall said. “It’s not like you’re unbeatable, it’s not like this team can never beat you.”
The Ducks (2-0) improved a spot in the rankings to No. 2 after the victory against the Spartans, establishing themselves as an early season favorite for a spot in college football’s first playoff.
Given the accolades tossed Oregon’s way following the win over the Spartans, quarterback Marcus Mariota was asked about the danger of overlooking the Mountain West’s Cowboys (2-0).
“Not at all. Our mentality is still the same. I thought this practice was one of the better ones we’ve had this year,” Mariota said this week. “Our attitude won’t change and we just gotta continue to get better and we look forward to another one on Saturday.”
Mariota solidified his candidacy for the Heisman Trophy by throwing for 318 yards and three touchdowns against the vaunted Michigan State defense that was ranked second nationally last season.
Through the first three games, Mariota has thrown for 585 yards and six touchdowns, while running for 85 yards and another score. The junior QB has a school-record 69 career touchdown passes, with at least one TD thrown in all 28 games he’s appeared in.
Wyoming is coming off the 300th win in program history, rallying for a 17-13 against Air Force last weekend. The game Saturday will be the team’s first on the road this season.
Mariota certainly has Cowboys coach Craig Bohl’s attention.
“Since he’s quarterbacked, they’ve only lost three games. This guy is 6-foot-4, and I saw him make five Michigan State tacklers who are very athletic miss,” Bohl said. “So you’ve got a guy that’s 6-4, is a very competitive player and has a live arm and makes a lot of people miss. That’s a pretty good combination right there.”
Wyoming linebacker Jordan Stanton was chosen the Mountain West defensive player of the week after 13 tackles, including nine solo and a sack. Air Force was leading the game 10-7 and decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 when Stanton hit fullback Broam Hart, knocking the ball loose for a fumble that was recovered by Wyoming. The Cowboys capped the series with a field goal to tie the game.
— Oregon Football (@WinTheDay) September 10, 2014
Poised senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday against Air Force, including the game-winning TD with 58 seconds left. Overall he’s thrown for 374 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
Reigning NCAA 110-meter hurdles champion Devon Allen caught three passes for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Michigan State, including a 70-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter. “He takes that same work ethic that he has in track and puts it on the football field, and I think that’s why he’s having so much success so early in his career,” senior receiver Keanon Lowe said about his redshirt freshman protégé.
True freshman Royce Freeman leads the Ducks with 164 yards rushing on 23 carries with three touchdowns. He had 89 yards rushing on 13 carries and two touchdowns against Michigan State, but probably his most memorable moment was grabbing Mariota’s 17-yard shovel pass on third-and 10 to keep an Oregon drive alive in the fourth quarter.
This will be the first meeting between Oregon and Wyoming. The Cowboys are the only team from the current Mountain West Conference that the Ducks haven’t played. So far, Oregon is 51-18-1 against MWC teams it’s faced.