August 31st, 2013 12:10 pm | by JOHN LOCANTHI News | Posted In: Sports

Almost Live: Nicholls State at Oregon

59-point underdog Colonels accept $350,000 to try to beat the spread

Football. Football is what brings us together today. Football, that blessed sport, that dream within a dream…something something sports.

That is the sole reason to care about today’s match-up with the Ducks’ decidedly less-than-exciting opponent, Colonels of Nicholls State. A 59-point underdog. A team that has somehow managed to be worse than last year’s Colorado. In fact, today is the Colonels’ first game against a Football Bowl Subdivision team since losing to Oregon State by 74 points to end last season.

The Colonels are not good. The Oregon Ducks are good. Today’s game isn’t going to prove or disprove the latter statement. It isn’t going to prove much of anything outside of the finite interest Ducks fans have in watching their team play overmatched opponents. The sellout streak at Autzen is in jeopardy for the first time since last season’s season opener.

So, you know, hooray for football. I’ll provide deeper analysis once the Ducks start playing teams worth the effort.

The Ducks are opting for all-white for reasons still unknown. Perhaps it's a ploy to help the Colonels feel better about themselves.

Nicholls State starts off the season with short kickoff

So this Mariota guy appears to be pretty good. 27-yard run.

13:29 Oregon 7, Nicholls State 0
De'Anthony Thomas runs it in from the 4-yard line. Oregon scores its first touchdown of the season in a minute and a half.

The young Oregon defense forces a three-and-out, following a sack and a tipped pass. First series for the defense this season made them look much like last year's dominant unit. But they're playing Nicholls State so "lol."

Mariota's pass to 11'2" Daryl Hawkins sails high on account of Hawkins not being 11 feet tall.

10:29 Oregon 14, Nicholls State 0
A nice pass and catch to score that touchdown from Mariota to Bralon Addison. Oregon's second touchdown drive of the season lasted almost two minutes. Unacceptable.

Deforest Buckner with the sack to force a punt. Nicholls State gained two first downs on that last drive, so they should feel pretty good about themselves. Still beating the spread. #59PointUnderdogs

6:28 Oregon 21, Nicholls State 0
De'Anthony Thomas shows superior athleticism as he runs it in from 20+ yards out. That last Oregon TD drive took about 80 seconds.
The Ducks force their first turnover of the season after Taylor Hart sacks the Colonels' QB and forces the fumble. Oregon ball at the 17 yard line.
5:04 Oregon 24, Nicholls State 0
The much maligned Alejandro Maldonado starts the season on a positive note with a completed field goal from 29 yards out.

Nicholls State's offense gets a first down following the officiating crew declares #feelingsball by charging an Oregon defender with hitting a "defenseless player." (A penalty fully endorsed by Willamette Week.) Outraged boos (potential "Boo-urns" chants) echo throughout the stadium. Oregon corner Terrance Mitchell has been suspended for the remainder of the game.

A near touchdown from Nicholls State called back following a holding penalty

End of the First Quarter: Oregon 24, Nicholls State 0
Why are the Ducks playing these clowns again? Oregon defense is playing down to its experience level but it still isn't close. At $450,000, this is the most expensive and least important scrimmage of the year. Good hustle, Colonels.

14:16 Nicholls State 3, Oregon 24
The mighty Colonels defy expectations by scoring points after a 14-play, 47 yard drive. #BeatingTheSpread

12:58 Oregon 31, Nicholls State 3
Marcus "Super" Mariota runs in another touchdown to a collective yawn from the stadium.
6:20 Oregon 38, Nicholls State 3
Super Mariota breaks a tackle and runs in another touchdown. Good hustle out there, Colonels. Touchdown drive took 4 plays, 90 yards and a minute and five seconds.

In a gambit to let the game get more out of hand, the Nicholls State running back fumbles the ball after a 2-yard run. Ne'ermind, officials give it back to the Colonels.
Oregon defense gets a sack on 3rd and long, in case you're still watching this game. Feel free to turn to the Alabama—Virginia Tech game at any point to see what it looks like when two competent teams play. Although one of them is still named after neutered turkeys.

Scratch that, do not change to a different game.

Halftime: Oregon 38, Nicholls State 3
This might actually be the most boring game known to man. It isn't close. There hasn't been the flurry of points and highlight reel touchdowns to add some measure of excitement. This is the rare college football game that goes exactly as expected. Oregon is on pace to cover the 59-point spread. That's really all there is to it. The $450,000 check Nicholls State is getting for this game should help their athletic department. Oregon is getting an extra scrimmage. The only ones losing today are the fans who wanted to watch an interesting game.

Autzen Stadium is half empty to start the second half.

12:13 in the 3rd quarter
Nicholls State derp de derp. Dee derpy derpy derp de derp. Until one play, tee teedilly tum.

Nicholls State with their best play of the game: a pooch kick downed at the Oregon one yard line.
Nicholls stuffs De'Anthony Thomas on 4th down as the boos rain down, a rare sign of life from the crowd.

Nothing of interest continues to happen on the field. Several neurotic Ducks fans fretting over the less-than-stellar performance by the Oregon backups but these fans seem blissfully unaware of the fact that no one cares about this game.

0:49 Oregon 45, Nicholls State 0
Byron Marshall scores on a 49-yard run. The closest thing to a highlight from this dull game. Mariota has over 100 yards rushing now, too.

End of the 3rd Quarter: Oregon 45, Nicholls 3
[insert interested football commentary here]
Ducks block a field goal attempt while the intercom guy praises the half-empty stadium for being Oregon's 90th consecutive sellout. Jeff Lockie in at quarterback now.

11:20 Oregon 52, Nicholls 3
Colt Lyerla punches in a short touchdown after Byron Marshall's second 40+ yard run of the quarter. History made today: Oregon has three 100-yard rushers (Thomas, Mariota, Marshall) in the same game for the first time in school history. Meanwhile...
Oregon defender sacks, forces a fumble and recovers it all in one fantastic play.

6:42 Oregon 59, Nicholls 3
Jeff Lockie's touchdown scramble puts the Ducks within three points of beating the spread. Or whatever the correct terminology is for a 59-point favorite winning by 59 points. Living up to expectations, I guess.

3:45 Oregon 66, Nicholls State 3
Jake Rodrigues throws his first career touchdown pass as the Ducks beat the spread. Oregon has also broken the school record for offensive yardage in a single game.

Final Score: Oregon 66, Nicholls State 3
It's not every day that a season opener lives up to expectations. Mariota did what was expected (234 yards passing, 113 yards rushing). De'Anthony Thomas ran for 128 yards on the most carries of his career as he transitions into a workhorse. Young defense gave up some yards but played well overall. Despite attendance being in jeopardy heading into the game, it turned into the 90th consecutive sellout. Two school records were broken. Really, the only problem with today's game is that it was painfully dull.
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