Oregon posted a school record 777 yards of total offense in a 44-28 victory over the California Golden Bears on Saturday night at Autzen Stadium. The win not only kept the Ducks slim Pac-12 championship hopes alive, but it also ensure bowl eligibility for the Ducks with three games left in the regular season.
The Ducks (6-3, 4-2) finally found a total groove against Cal (5-4, 2-4), led by an explosive rushing attack that accumulated 477 yards thanks in large part to a four headed rushing attack and a stout performance from the offensive line.
“Offensive line has been unsung all year for us,” offensive coordinator Scott Frost said. “I think they’re playing as consistently as any group since I’ve been here. But we need to keep improving.”
Sophomore Royce Freeman's stock continued to rise with a 180-yard performance on 29 carries, but he wasn’t the only one taking advantage of a soft Cal front.
Tony Brooks-James made the most of his seven carries and picked up 101 yards on the ground. Kani Benoit was right behind him with 94 yards on seven carries. And freshman Taj Griffin had 59 yards on eight carries with an additional 32 yards receiving on two receptions.
"I think we have four really talented guys in the backfield and obvioulsy Royce is the leader of that group," Frost said. "But we don't want to pound him into the dust either and those other guys are capable of making a play."
A week after a memorable performance in a thrilling three overtime win at Arizona State, quarterback Vernon Adams turned in another one going 17-for-29 for 300 yards passing, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Adams once-again showed off his dual-threat elusiveness and his arm, scrambling when he needed to pick up the first down or buying enough time with solid protection to extend plays and find open receivers.
"He's starting to get a lot more comfortable with that to where he can run the show with the protections," Frost said. "Obviously this team didn't blitz anyhwere near as much as the last team did so there weren't as many checks to make but he's very familiar with what we're asking him to do as far as changing protections now."
He found Bralon Addison five times for 79 yards and two of his touchdowns, while Darren Carrington hauled in four catches for 112 yards. Charles Nelson and Dwayne Stanford also had touchdown receptions, with Nelson’s practically closing the door on the Golden Bears to start the fourth quarter.
The Ducks hope to keep the momentum going into next week’s matchup with Stanford, who has a two game lead over Oregon with three weeks left in the regular season. Oregon would have to beat Stanford, hope Stanford loses to Cal and hope Washington State loses again in order to make the Pac-12 Championship game in December.
While they’ll need some fortunate bounces to come their way to make that happen, Saturday proved Oregon might have enough on offense, and maybe enough on defense, to upend the Cardinal next weekend on the road.