Today marks the second-ranked Oregon Ducks first trip to the eastern time zone since the '70s. It also marks the first time Oregon has faced the oldest public school in the country, the University of Virginia. Suffice it to say, there isn't much history to discuss here. As the Oregonian's Andrew Greif noted, the Virginia Cavaliers' athletic department reached all the way back to the Lewis & Clark Expedition for shared history between the program—Meriwether Lewis and William Clark both lived in Charlottesville. Little did UVa founder Thomas Jefferson know what he was bringing upon in the school when he commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore the Oregon Country.
Or something like that.
The Cavaliers are coming off a rain-soaked 19-16 victory against Brigham Young University. An impressive defensive showing. But it was against BYU. In the rain. Today's forecast is party cloudy with the temperature in the high 70s. The Ducks are favored by more than three scores against the 'Hoos [Don't ask—Ed.]
The Cavaliers' defense will be facing an Oregon offense that averaged 16 seconds in between plays last week, scoring 8 touchdowns on drives that lasted less than two minutes. On the flip side, the Oregon defense will be facing an offense that managed a paltry 223 yards against BYU. A stiffer test than Nicholls State to be sure but this game shouldn't be close.
(Note: Due to a lack of interest, I am watching this game on TV in Fortress of Solitude with a bottle of cognac by my side.)
0:45 Virginia 7, Oregon 21
The 'Hoos running rumbles, bumbles and stumbles past Oregon defenders on a 45-yard touchdown run. Ducks defense gave up quite a bit on that drive. Ed Cunningham is already encouraging the Cavaliers to go for the onside kick.
End of the First Quarter: Oregon 21, Virginia 7
The game has been defined by big plays so far. Three touchdowns have come on long runs, t'other following a blocked punt. Despite the Oregon offensive numbers, the Virginia defensive front has been whipping the Ducks' offensive line. The 'Hoos also finished out the quarter with "all the momentum" [As much as any team down two score can have momentum—Ed.]
The Oregon defense stuffs Virginia on 4th down at the 36. Virginia is already in late-game desperation mode when it comes to playcalling.
"I know it's 4th & 10, but still might wanna [go for it]... no, I guess you have to punt" — Color commentator Ed Cunningham, still really bullish on Virginia calling plays like a mid-major down a score with two minutes left in a game.
10:01 Oregon 28, Virginia 7
WR Bralon Addison scores on a perfectly blocked screen as the Ducks appear to have remembered how to football.
For those of you keeping track at home, that's three personal fouls against Oregon in the first half. However, only the "illegal hands to the face" that stopped the Ducks' last drive falls under the "Unacceptable" category. Unsportsmanlike conduct and late hits when the other team was going to get the ball anyways? Willamette Week has no qualm with those. Boys will be boys, after all.
Ricky Heimuli is called for the Ducks' fourth personal foul of the half after he bumps into Virginia's QB. The refs are doing their best to turn this into a #feelingsball game right now.
2:04 Virginia 10, Oregon 28
Aided by not one but two personal fouls against the Ducks, the 'Hoos score a field goal.
Personal foul on Virginia... followed by a personal on Oregon for taunting. Referees need to let these young gentlemen play football already.
Virginia stuffs Oregon on 4th down at the half-yard line.
Halftime: Oregon 28, Virginia 10
Oregon is on pace to cover but you couldn't find a less satisfying half of football on Ducks twitter. The Virginia defensive line is having its way with the Oregon offensive line. The penalty situation is out of hand. [Living up to Pac-12 officiating expectations smh—Ed.] But at the end of the day, Oregon is up by three scores. They are better than Virginia. They are playing better than Virginia. But give the Cavs credit for making an 18-point game feel like a tie game.
12:48 in the Third Quarter: Oregon 31, Virginia 10
Maldonado makes a field goal after a once-promising drive fizzles once Mariota and the receiving corps had to try playing catch.
3:46 Oregon 38, Virginia 10
Shortly after UW alumnus Ed Cunningham indicates his belief that the Ducks are not as good as past incarnations, DAT runs in for his third touchdown of the game. The beauty of this run is that a 'Hoos defender was in the perfect place to tackle Thomas... and then DAT cut and trotted in easily. The Cavaliers simply have no one who can defend him. Both De'Anthony Thomas and Mariota are averaging over 10 yards per carry—DAT at 11.3, Mariota a svelte 30.5.
Tony Washington just killed UVa QB Watford and forced a fumble. Game about to get ugly.
2:42 Oregon 45, Virginia 10
Hawkins scores a touchdown on a screen following an excellent block from Huff. Oregon offense appears to be finally clicking, Colt Lyerla's hands notwithstanding.
End of the Third Quarter: Oregon 45, Virginia 10
Now that's more like it. The Ducks have begun filtering in the reserve players. Two touchdowns and a field goal while forcing a goose egg from the opponent tends to lead to this. Virginia looks depleted on both offense and defense while the Ducks' remain fresh—the reserves even fresher. There isn't really much more to say. I'd just like to point out my pregame score prediction was Oregon 55, Virginia 17.
9:40 Oregon 52, Virginia 10
Dior Mathis intercepts Watford in the end-zone and returns it 97 yards. Young frosh Tyner—Whom, the announcers cannot help but point out, scored 5,000 TDs in the first half against my alma mater, Beaverton High School, last year—scores his first career carry and touchdown at Oregon.
7:28 Oregon 59, Virginia 10
There's that Tyner guy again for his second career touchdown. This one an untouched 31-yarder. He's going to be a good one.
Color commentator Ed
Cunningdoog Cunningham has gone from saying the Ducks are a national title contender "in the sense that all of the contenders are deeply flawed" to admitting that the Ducks aren't going to take the huge step back that he prophesied before the season. These are the back-handed compliments that even Huskies must give the current program.
"These Ducks are nothing like what we played in the 80s and 90s," - Ed Cunningham admits, living in the past.
Final Score: Oregon 59, Virginia 10
The Ducks beat the spread with a bit of flair. As negative as Oregon twitter was throughout the game, Oregon finished out the game on a 31-0 run. Virginia deserves some credit for making the game seem far closer than the score ever was. Emphasis on "some credit." This afternoon was a wonderful example of just how much the Oregon fanbase and expectations have changed over the years. The Ducks bested even my homerific pregame prediction of 55-17... and yet, if you scan this post and my twitter, you'll find it mostly negative. These are the halcyon days to be a Ducks fan. Even embittered doogs like Ed Cunningham are offering back-handed compliments.
Up next: Oregon takes on the vaunted ESS EE CEE in the form of perennial bottom-feeder Tennessee at Autzen Stadium.