As Tennessee visits Eugene it feels like the college football season has finally begun. The bars were riddled with Southrons looking forward to their first experience with the noise at Autzen—while guaranteeing that it would never challenge the volume of 102,000+ capacity Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.
This is the first time since the back-to-back losses to Auburn and LSU in the 2011 national title game and the 2011 season opener that Oregon has faced a team from the vaunted Southeastern Conference. Coincidentally, Oregon thrashed Tennessee in Neyland Stadium to start 2010—Still own a few records in said stadium if I'm not mistaken.
But the general mantra amongst Tennessee fans from the Youtube stars to the ones I bumped into at bars last night are banking on the SEC factor give them a good chance at victory today. The Volunteers have taken a few strides forward since the Derek Dooley era, notably proving their dominance over directional Kentucky last weekend. But the general vibe is a hopelessness tempered with a belief that playing in the premier conference in the nation gives the storied-yet-down-on-their-luck program a chance today.
Oregon is going with a full yellow-out today—though the student section is wanting—as we greet the lone SEC school that didn't back out of a home and home with the program.
something something pregame analysis
5:51 Oregon 3, Tennessee 7
The Ducks score following a drive consisting of big plays followed by penalties, bad exchanges and general derpitude. Oregon was called for a personal foul for unsportsmanlike conduct following the score because Pac-12 refs. Ducks are playing sloppily whilst Tennessee clearly came to play.
Oregon forces a three-and-out. A scout is praising Tennessee's offensive line as the best in the land; the skill players are not up to its standards though.
A once promising bubble screen the sideline is turned into a fumble recovered by Tennessee. The play is under review... and it is reversed.
3:34 Oregon 10, Tennessee 7
Mariota throws a touchdown pass as a tight end peels off the block and runs free into the end zone. The malaise lingering over the team to start the game may be subsiding as they remember that they're playing Tennessee. Mariota has now thrown a touchdown pass in all 16 games he has started in his career.
An incredible catch and run by the tight end Mundt, highlighted by stiff-arming the safety to gain about 10 more yards towards the end. Good for 57 yards.
14:54 in the second quarter: Oregon 17, Tennessee 7
The Ducks open up the second quarter with a touchdown scramble from Mariota. A penalty bails out Oregon after a botched two-point attempt. The touchdown run put Mariota over 1,000 yards rushing for his young career.
9:54 Oregon 24, Tennessee 7
Josh Huff breaks free on a slant route to score the long touchdown on an 80-yard, two play drive. The passing game appears to have worked out the kinks at the beginning of the game. Tennessee is like that dead mouse that your cat played around with for a few minutes before walking over to the kibble bowl.
4:20 Oregon 31, Tennessee 7
Oregon scores on a long pass play on 4th down. Daryle Hawkins got behind the secondary as Tennessee defenders seemed perplexed that team would go for anything more than a first down in that situation. Student section is loudly chanting "We want 'Bama!"
Bralon Addison breaks about 10 tackles before being dragged down by the shoelaces at mid-field on the punt return. Referees call a personal foul against Oregon because #Pac12Refs. Penalties are not a new thing for Oregon but the refs have shown a willingness to toss out personal fouls left and right in this short season. Ducks have the ball at their own 8 yard line following a 40-yard punt return.
1:19 Oregon 38, Tennessee 7
De'Anthony Thomas scores on a long run as the floodgates have officially opened in this game. The "We want 'Bama!" chant resumes. Lost in this touchdown is Josh Huff—you might remember him as the guy who has committed three penalties this half—hurdling a Tennessee defender on the preceding play. Oregon is scoring at will at present, but I'm getting the sneaking suspicion that Tennessee might not be that good.
Halftime: Oregon 38, Tennessee 7
So... remember when Tennessee was up 7-0? And when Oregon's passing game looked completely inept? Me neither. The Ducks have 458 yards of offense in the first half. Oregon has thoroughly dominated this game since its early goofing off. This has been the most impressive display of football since the Ducks' game last week. Penalties remain a concern—much like last week—but not against this middling Southron competition [Much like last week—Ed.]. At this point, I'd just like to thank Tennessee for not backing out of this home-and-home series, unlike their cowardly SEC East colleagues. The game in Knoxville in 2010 and today have been a sheer delight. Oh wait, there's another half to play?
Cannot put into words just how much I agree with this following tweet:
11:30 Oregon 45, Tennessee 7
Freshman sensation Johnny Mundt continues his fantastic day filling in for Lyerla with his second touchdown of the day. Mariota is sitting pretty at 396 yards passing right now—A new career high.
It appears we've reached the portion of the game where beleaguered Oregon sportswriters debate the whether Bugs Bunny was superior to Donald Duck.
5:40 Oregon 52, Tennessee 7
So some things happened while I was at the buffet. Oregon scored again on an 11-yard run by Byron Marshall. Mariota has 456 yards passing. Student section is emptying out but still a better-than-expected showing seeing as school hasn't started yet.
Having successfully blown the Volunteers off the field, Mariota's day is done. Jeff Lockie is in at quarterback now. Tyner is in at running back.
Amazing tackle by Oshay Dunmore on a wide receiver bubble screen on third down. This Oregon defense hasn't been getting the praise it's earned so far this season.
End of the Third Quarter: Oregon 59, Tennessee 7
For those of you keeping score at home, that's 59 unanswered points from the Ducks.
Tennessee wide receiver makes a nice catch to convert the fourth down attempt. Good hustle, Volunteers.
7:14 Tennessee 14, Oregon 59
The Volunteers score their first points since the first quarter. An imposing, dominant drive against the Oregon backups there.
Is this game over yet?
Final Score: Oregon 59, Tennessee 14
This was to be the most difficult test of the season up to this point and, who knows, it may have been. This team looks like a mirror of last season's behemoth. Getting up by wide margins by halftime and leaving us sportswriters with the tall task of making these second halves sound interesting. The Volunteers deserve credit for coming out to Eugene to play football. The Ducks got some more game experience. Mariota got set a few PRs. No major injuries. On the whole, I'd say it was a pretty successful game. (Fun fact: This is the worst loss for Tennessee since 1905.)
Up Next: BYE
The Ducks are off next week. They've earned it after dropping at least 59 points in each of their three nonconference games. Football returns with Cal—victors of a hard-fought match with that power of powers, Portland State— coming to Autzen on the 28th.