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November 11, 2012The No. 2 Oregon Ducks entered the game against Cal knowing that the Alabama Crimson Tide had lost today and were poised to take over the No. 1 spot in both of the human polls. After taking care of USC last weekend, the Ducks were stuck in a classic trap game with Stanford coming to Eugene next Saturday.
California entered the game having lost their best playmaker on offense, receiver Keenan Allen, as well as starting quarterback Zach Maynard.
The Ducks were also suffering from the injury bug with three defensive line starters not in the opening lineup. But the Oregon offense came into the game as one of the most dominant offenses in the nation and they did not disappoint quickly marching into scoring territory on the arm of freshman Marcus Mariota. The Ducks punched in the score with a 10 yard pass from Mariota to Colt Lyerla.
California would not be intimidated early, though. After a quick three and out on their first possession, the Bears took their second possession down the field for a game tying touchdown when Allan Bridgford connected with Darius Powe for a 10 yard touchdown pass of his own.
The Duck defense stiffened on the next possession and Mariota went to work marching the Ducks 86 yards on 13 plays to give the Ducks the lead at 14-7 with less than two minutes in the first quarter.
After a Cal field goal cut the lead to 14-10, injuries began to mount for the Ducks as Kenjon Barner hurt his hand, Avery Patterson left with a knee injury and Mariota hurt his shoulder on a rush that put the Ducks in a first and goal. Bryan Bennett was unable to get the Ducks in the end zone, but Alejandra Maldonado hit a short field goal to extend the lead to 17-10.
After Cal drove inside the 30 again, the Duck defense stiffened up and held Cal to a 48 yard field goal attempt which they missed giving Oregon a little life before halftime.
Oregon quickly took advantage. After missing a couple of plays on the previous series, Mariota returned and drove the Ducks 69 yards in 8 plays with Mariota connecting on another 10 yard pass to Josh Huff to extend the lead to 24-10 halftime lead.
After taking the second half kickoff 60 yards, Oregon was unable to gain a first down and turned the ball over to Cal on a missed fourth down attempt. Cal made Oregon pay driving the ball 74 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 24-17.
Unable to move the ball, Jackson Rice pinned Cal inside the 15 yard line with a booming punt. Oregon's struggling defense was able to force an interception. On the very first offensive play following the turnover Mariota hit Huff for a 35 yard touchdown to extend the lead to 31-17 for Oregon.
After another defensive stop gave the Ducks good field position, Oregon marched down the field culminating the 64 yard drive with a 39 yard pass from Mariota to Huff extending the Oregon lead to 38-17 midway through the third quarter.
Despite being down to the second unit along the defensive line, the Duck defense began to stiffen. Early in the fourth quarter, Mariota extended the Duck lead to 45-17 with a 14 yard pass to Lyerla.
Though the defense had struggled some early in the second half, the Ducks were able to stiffen up and hold Cal in check as the offense began to pile up yards and points.
Mariota finished the game 27 of 34 for 377 yards and a school record tying 6 touchdown passes. The normally dominant rushing attack struggled early, but finished with 179 yards for the game as the Ducks cruised to a 59-17 final.
Next up for the Ducks (10-0, 7-0) is the Stanford Cardinal (8-2, 6-1) at Autzen Stadium with the winner now guaranteed a spot in the second Pac-12 Conference Championship Game.