Oregon Ducks

Who do you root for?

Is there a Final Four underdog? And, can LMA lead Portland to a series win?
March 31, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

How can anyone root for Kentucky as an underdog in the NCAA Tournament? Well, they are, according to their seeding in this year's tournament at No. 8. Connecticut, a regular national champion, is seeded No. 7, but reached the Final Four along with UK.

So, who's an underdog this year?

That's a key topic for the Sportsland, Oregon crew during this week's episode, recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.

With Wisconsin reaching the Final Four, the cast of Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber discuss the frustration of Oregon's second-half collapse against the Badgers in the third round. How far away are the Ducks from a regular trip to the Elite Eight and Final Four?

Then, it's off to the Blazers and the danger they faced just last week of seemingly being on a path to ninth place in the Western Conference. Once LaMarcus Aldridge returned from an injury, the team settled down and won three straight to reclaim their position as a potential No. 4 seed.

Portland Timbers, Portland Winterhawks and Roofball all claim some portion of discussion of the show.


FSU represents for the football world

Seminoles win an exciting title game, Oregon dreams of Ducks, Blazers
Jan. 6, 2014 / Staff

Auburn might not have been able to pull off another miracle finish, but the Tigers helped Florida State into a worthy national champion following a 34-31 win by the Seminoles Monday.

The game was exciting, and didn't involve any crowd shots of any player's partners, which made it a really great game.

And, of course, it's not the end of football season as there's still plenty of NFL action left.

That's the storyline for the first episode of Sportsland, Oregon, recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland Monday night.

Cast members Cliff Pfenning and Marlon Thomas talk up the thriling nature of the college title game and where Oregon might be as the 2014 season unofficially began with FSU breaking the seven-year run of titles by the SEC.

The Blazers keep earning solid wins, but their recent lack of domination has the cast poking around for what they might be needing as trade/free agency talk begins to affect the league as the year progresses. Now that Portland is a quality team, what's the affect of proposed player movement going to be on the team?

It's all recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland, with the first episode joined by guests Mike Stasiak and Ben Hamblen, who provide an Eastern View of the Oregon drama.

Oregon tops the list for 2013

The Ducks didn't reach the title game, but they had our attention
Dec. 30, 2013

The University of Oregon football team took its fans through highs and lows pretty well this season, and that put the Ducks at the top of the list for memories of the 2013 calendar year for the cast of Sportsland, Oregon, which recorded its 28th episode Monday night.

Oregon had the BCS Title Game squarely in sight until and loss at Stanford, and then slipped out of a BCS game with a punishing loss at Arizona, both of which had fans beginning to look in the direction of first-year coach Mark Helfrich.

But, at 11-2, it's tough to claim Helfrich isn't qualified for the job. So, it's time to relax, find a successor to Nick Aliotti at defensive coordinator, and look toward winning the 2014 Pac-12 title and a spot in the BCS Playoffs.

The show cast: Derek Weber, Marlon Thomas and host Cliff Pfenning, then move on to the NFL and its glorious final day that broke the hearts of Dallas Cowboys fans everywhere.

And, the Portland Trail Blazers, who've quietly dazzled the pro hoop world, took another late-game shot to the chest in the form of a two-point loss at New Orleans, which gave the team its first two-game losing streak of the season with a game at Oklahoma City up next.

It's all recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.

Ducks headed for San Antonio?

Oregon would face Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl if predictions hold
Dec. 3, 2013

Well, the University of Oregon football team took care of not having to play in the Rose Bowl again with a disturbing loss at Arizona two weeks ago, but the bright side would be a trip to a bowl the team hasn't played in before - the Alamo Bowl.

More than one online site have the Ducks playing Oklahoma, Dec. 30, in San Antonio, Texas.

Reports from cbssports.com and espn.com, have the same match-up as major conferences head to their championship games, all of which will affect the BCS bowls, on Saturday.

Oregon would be one of eight Pac-12 teams to play in a bowl game. Oregon State became bowl eligible with six wins in midseason before finishing with five straight losses.

The Beavers are viewed as a replacement team for an SEC bowl spot, a spot that assumes Auburn will win the SEC title Saturday over Missouri. The Beavers are headed for the Independence Bowl to play Georgia Tech according to cbssports.com, while espn.com has them playing in either the Poinsettia Bowl or Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Stanford, Arizona State, USC, UCLA, Washington and Arizona are all slated to play in a bowl game, with Stanford being a heavy favorite to beat Arizona State in the Pac-12 Conference title game.

In other title games, No. 1 Florida State plays Duke for the ACC title, No. 2 Ohio State plays Michigan State for the Big 10 title, and Utah State plays Fresno State for the Mountain West title. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas are all alive for the Big 12 title.





Oregon gets its blood pumping

Ducks rally for last-minute win over Oregon State, 36-35
Nov. 29, 2013

Marcus Mariota threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Josh Huff with 29 seconds left and No. 12 Oregon overcame a tenacious effort by Oregon State 36-35 Friday night in the 117th edition of the Civil War rivalry.

Mariota threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns - all to Huff, who had nine catches for a season-high 186 yards - and the Ducks (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12) sealed their sixth straight 10-win season. It was also the team's sixth straight victory over the Beavers in the series.

With the Ducks holding a 24-23 lead, the Beavers scored on Sean Mannion's 4-yard pass to Tyler Anderson to pull in front 29-24 early in the fourth quarter. But Oregon answered with Mariota's fourth-and-11 pass to Huff for a 12-yard touchdown and the Ducks took a 30-29 lead with 7:56 left in the game.

Victor Bolden ran for a 25-yard touchdown to make it 35-30 for the Beavers with 1:38 remaining, but Oregon State's defense couldn't stop the Ducks on their final drive.

Mannion passed for 314 yards and two touchdowns for the Beavers (6-6, 4-5), who ended the season on a five-game losing streak, their worst since dropping six straight to conclude the 1997 season.

Freshman Thomas Tyner rushed for 141 yards and another score for Oregon, which finished undefeated at home for the first time since 2010.

The Ducks were coming off a deflating 42-16 loss at Arizona last weekend that ended their Pac-12 and national title hopes.

Oregon State are one of nine Pac-12 teams vying for a spot in the seven conference bowl games.

The Beavers were thwarted on the opening drive of the game when Mannion threw into the end zone on fourth-and-1 to Brandin Cooks and he was intercepted by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

Cooks was announced last week as one of three finalists for the 2013 Biletnikoff Award for the nation's best college receiver. Cooks went into Friday night's game as the nation's top receiver with 141.8 yards a game.

Following the interception, the Ducks drove 80 yards on seven plays, capped by De'Anthony Thomas' 5-yard touchdown dash to give Oregon a 7-0 lead. Tyner added a 13-yard scoring run before the first quarter was over.

The Ducks were without Byron Marshall, who injured his ankle in the loss to Arizona last week.

Storm Woods scored on a 2-yard run for the Beavers to make it 14-7. Trevor Romaine added an 18-yard field goal with 2:33 left in the first half. The Beavers got close again before the break, but Mannion's pass to Cooks was fumbled into the end zone for a touchback, and the Beavers came away with nothing.

Rashaad Reynolds intercepted Mariota on Oregon's ensuing drive and the Beavers went on to score on Mannion's 6-yard pass to Terron Ward to make it 17-17 at halftime.

Mariota had not thrown an interception this season until he had two in the loss to the Wildcats. He had two more interceptions in the first half against the Beavers.

Oregon's sophomore quarterback continued to wear a brace on his left knee. It is believed that he injured his knee during the Ducks' victory over UCLA on Oct. 26 and he's worn the brace since.

Oregon State pulled in front 20-17 on Romaine's 47-yard field goal to open the second half.

But Oregon woke up, and on the next drive Mariota took off on a 21-yard carry despite the brace, before finding Josh Huff with a 28-yard touchdown pass to retake the lead.

Terron Ward slipped on the turf on fourth-and-1 on the Oregon 5 and the Beavers missed a key opportunity to go back ahead. But they closed to 24-23 early in the fourth quarter on Romaine's 37-yard field goal.

Matt Wogan missed a 43-yard field goal for the Ducks with 12:49 to go.

Ducks handle stubborn WSU

Oregon's miscues make a 61-31 victory look more like a tie
Oct. 19, 2013

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota rarely gets rattled. But he does get concerned.

Never mind that the second-ranked Ducks handily defeated Washington State 62-38, or that Mariota threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.

The sophomore quarterback was kicking himself for a pair of fumbles, both of which led to first-half touchdowns for the Cougars.

"I've got to take care of the ball better," he proclaimed after the game.

Mariota kicked things off with a 57-yard scoring dash on the first series of the game for the Ducks, who wore pink helmets, cleats and socks for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Teammate Byron Marshall ran for 192 yards and three touchdowns.

Mariota's star has continued to rise as the Ducks (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12) have collected wins, and he is considered by many to be a leading Heisman Trophy candidate. The fumbles were his first turnovers this season, and he has yet to throw an interception.

"I'm just trying to handle it the best that I can," he said. "It's not just me that's doing well, it's the team."

Except for the fumbles, Mariota was his solid self, completing 23 of 32 passes for 327 yards.

Meanwhile, Washington State's Connor Halliday was breaking records.

Halliday completed 58 of 89 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns for the Cougars (4-4, 2-3). His attempts broke the FBS-level record of 83 set by Drew Brees for Purdue on Oct. 10, 1998. His total attempts and completions also broke the Pac-12 records set by Arizona's Matt Scott last season, and his total yards set a Washington State record.

But Halliday also threw four interceptions, including one that was returned 51 yards for a touchdown by Terrance Mitchell early in the fourth quarter. The junior leads the nation with 17 interceptions.

"I knew going in, on about Monday of last week, that we were going to throw it a lot. I mean, nobody ever thinks 89 is going to be the number," Halliday said.

While Washington State pulled within 27-21 in the first half, Oregon cleaned up the mistakes in the second half and pulled away, racking up 719 yards in total offense. Freshman Thomas Tyner ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns.

The Ducks were coming off a 45-24 victory over Washington in Seattle last weekend. After Stanford's upset loss to Utah last week, undefeated Oregon is alone in first place in the Pac-12 North.

The Cougars were coming off a 52-24 loss to Oregon State in Pullman last weekend. The Beavers outscored Washington State 28-0 in the fourth quarter and Halliday threw three interceptions.

"One thing that is really impressive about Oregon is how decisively they play," coach Mike Leach said. "They're probably the most decisive team in how they play in the country."

Oregon remained without dynamic running back De'Anthony Thomas, who was in pads and practiced before the game but didn't play for the third straight game. Thomas, who has run for 338 yards and six touchdowns, has been out since his slipped on the rain-soaked turf at Autzen on the opening kickoff against Cal.

After Mariota's opening touchdown, Marshall plowed across the line for a 1-yard touchdown midway through the first to up Oregon's lead to 13-0. Halliday found Dom Williams in the corner of the end zone with an 11-yard scoring pass, but Marshall answered with a 26-yard scoring run to make it 20-7.

Tyner made an acrobatic catch to get to the Washington State 1, then powered into the end zone for the touchdown early in the second quarter.

Mariota was sacked and his fumble was recovered by Washington State, leading to Halliday's 22-yard pass to River Cracraft for the freshman receiver's first touchdown.

He was sacked and fumbled again on the next series and Xavier Cooper scooped up the ball and ran it in to narrow the score to 27-21 with 5:35 left before halftime.

"Our culture around here is always one play at a time," Mariota said. "Whatever happens you have to shake it off and move on."

Tyner scored on a 66-yard run for the Ducks before Andrew Furney kicked a 49-yard field goal for the Cougars as time ran out to make it 34-24.

Mariota found Keanon Lowe with a 10-yard scoring pass and Marshall scored on a 30-yard run in the third quarter before Mitchell's pick six early in the fourth.

Halliday threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Marks with 3:48 left and added a 3-yard scoring toss to Bobby Ratliff with 11 seconds to go for the final margin.

Halliday's passing yards surpassed Alex Brink's Washington State record of 531 against Oregon State in 2005.

"That's crazy. I don't think I could throw that many passes. My arm would hurt," Cougars defensive lineman Xavier Cooper said.

The Ducks extended their winning streak over the Cougars to seven straight.

Washington State defeated a ranked opponent earlier this season when they beat then-No. 25 USC 10-7, although it was before the Trojans fired head coach Lane Kiffin. The Cougars have not defeated a team in the top five since 2003, when they downed No. 5 Texas 28-20 in the Holiday Bowl.

Oregon planned to auction a number of the pink helmets off after the game to raise money for Kay Yow Cancer Fund, named after the North Carolina State women's basketball coach who died of breast cancer in 2009.

Oregon blasts through Huskies

Washington does well to hang within three scores of the Ducks, 45-24
Oct. 13, 2013

SEATTLE (AP) - In five previous outings this season, Marcus Mariota was wearing a baseball cap and sending in signals from the Oregon sideline by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.

When the Ducks were finally pushed on Saturday, Mariota and his teammates gave an emphatic response that added another notch to a decade of dominance over their rivals to the north.

Mariota threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns, added another 88 yards and one TD rushing, and the second-ranked Ducks beat No. 16 Washington 45-24 to extend their winning streak in the series to 10.

"Guys were able to battle. I definitely think we're a four-quarter type team, we just haven't had a reason to play four quarters," Oregon running back Byron Marshall said. "So the fact we got the first one under our belt to answer everyone's questions is good."

Mariota's passing was nearly spotless, he used his legs to make the Huskies pay when throwing options were covered, and he was easily the best player on the field. Mariota completed 24 of 31 passes, and ran another 13 times. He threw touchdowns of 4 and 3 yards to Bralon Addison and a 65-yarder to Josh Huff on Oregon's first possession of the second half. Huff had to be carted to the locker room with an apparent right leg injury in the first half, only to come back after halftime and burn the Huskies secondary.

Most impressive, Mariota answered every challenge Washington made. Twice in the second half the Huskies pulled within a touchdown. Both times, Mariota responded by leading the Ducks (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) to touchdowns of their own. Mariota topped 300 yards passing for the sixth time in his college career.

"He was awesome. I haven't seen the stats but he played really well," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "He played really smart and very productive. A bunch of guys made a bunch of plays for him too."

Marshall added 106 yards rushing and two touchdowns and while Oregon's streak of scoring at least 55 points ended at five games, the Ducks passed their first test of the season.

De'Anthony Thomas suited up for the Ducks but it was just decoration. Sidelined with a sprained ankle the past two games, Thomas went through pregame warm-ups but never left the Oregon sideline. Turns out they didn't need him.

The Ducks rolled up 631 total yards and averaged 7.8 yards per touch against a Washington defense that came into Saturday third best in the country allowing just 3.9 yards per play and third in pass efficiency defense.

Yet Mariota gladly exposed the gap that remains between the Ducks and Huskies. Mariota hit on 13 of his first 15 passes and now has 25 combined touchdowns and zero turnovers this season.

"Marcus was huge again for us today. He was taking care of the tempo and just leaving everything on the field for us," Huff said. "We stayed with him and were able to come away with the victory."

Bishop Sankey ran for 167 yards and touchdowns of 60 and 25 yards for Washington, but the Huskies (4-2, 1-2) defense that stood stout against Stanford last week was exposed. The Huskies gave up 633 total yards. Washington was third in the country giving up 3.9 yards per offensive play, but the Ducks averaged 7.9.

Sankey was responsible for a major first-half swing that left the Huskies playing from behind. Tied at 7-7 and driving, Sankey fumbled for the first time this season on a third-down run at the Oregon 31. The fumble was forced by cornerback Troy Hill and recovered by Torrondney Prevot. Mariota went to work, and connected with Addison for a 4-yard TD and a 14-7 lead.

Washington went three-and-out on its next series holding possession for barely one minute. Oregon followed with a seven-play drive, with three plays of 15 yards or more. Marshall capped the drive with a 15-yard sprint and a 21-7 Ducks lead. Washington's Keith Price also threw an interception late in the second quarter deep in Oregon's end. Price finished 19 of 32 for 182 yards and one TD.

"I thought both of our turnovers occurred in their territory and took potential points off the board for us and gave them possessions," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.

The Huskies closed to 21-14 on the first drive of the second half when Sankey burst 60 yards on fourth-and-1, but Mariota answered by dropping his long TD pass to Huff. Washington got within 31-24 on Sankey's 25-yard TD run in the final minute of the third quarter. The Ducks answered in less than 90 seconds with Mariota scoring on a 5-yard run and he added a 3-yard TD pass to Addison for the final margin. Addison finished with eight catches for 157 yards.


Ducks power through Colorado

Marcus Mariota contributes seven touchdowns in 57-16 victory
Oct. 5, 2013

The Oregon Ducks continued through the soft part of their 2013 schedule with a 57-16 blowout at Colorado Saturday in a Pac-12 Conference football game.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw five touchdown passes and ran for two more in the game, which the Buffaloes led 10-8 in the first quarter and then had the ball after stopping the ensuing Oregon drive. Oregon's Terrance Mitchell followed with the first of two interceptions in the quarter to spark the offense to score three more times for a 29-10 lead after 15 minutes.

No. 2 Oregon (5-0, 2-0) gave up a season-high four scores on defense in the first half, but worked a shutout in the second half.

On the season, Oregon's defense has given up 59 points. Oregon's offense is averaging 59 points per game.

The Ducks face Washington (4-1, 1-1) , which is coming off a frustrating 31-28 loss at Stanford, in Seattle Saturday.


Marcus keeps the Heisman heat on

Mariota leads Oregon to rout of Tennessee, keeps pace with 'Johnny Football'
Sept. 16, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

"Johnny Football" might have the attention of the sports world, but Marcus Mariota continues to keep pace with the defending Heisman Trophy winner as the 2013 college football season moves into high gear.

That's a prime topic for the cast of Sportsland, Oregon for the 22nd Episode of the year, recorded from Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland. Host Cliff Pfenning, Derek Weber and Marlon Thomas delve into the Ducks' season after they moved to 3-0.

Mariota threw for 456 yards and four touchdowns in Oregon's 59-14 victory over Tennessee, cranking out the stats in less than three full quarters. The rout kept them No. 2 in the AP Poll after No. 1 Alabama beat No. 6 Texas A&M 49-42, overcoming Johnny Manziel in the process. Manziel had 562 yards of total offense in the game.

Beyond the Ducks, the cast looks into Oregon State and Portland State football, as well as entertaining topics such as the depth of the NFL, whether Kansas City or New York is more of a favorite to jump into an American League Wild Card playoff spot, and the value of having too many good players on a Fantasy Football team.

It's all on Episode 22 of Sportsland, Oregon, Oregonsports.com's signature podcast, recorded every Monday night.


CLIFF PFENNING - Writer, Auto Sales Consultant at Beaverton Honda

DEREK WEBER - Media personality, marketing manager at First Tech Bank

MARLON THOMAS - Furniture Sales  Consultant at Mor Furniture, Tigard




Oregon rolls up Vols, SEC

Tennessee keeps Oregon to 59 in nationally televised battle
Sept. 14, 2013

EUGENE - Marcus Mariota threw for a career-high 456 yards and four touchdowns and No. 2 Oregon handed Tennessee its first loss of the season, 59-14 on Saturday.

Freshman Johnny Mundt, who replaced ailing tight end Colt Lyerla, had five catches for 121 yards and two TDs for the Ducks (3-0). Josh Huff added six catches for 125 yards and a score.

Mariota, who completed 23 of 33 passes, was the first Oregon quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards in a game since Kellen Clemens in 2005. The sophomore quarterback's yardage ties for the third-most in a game in school history.

Oregon's sloppy play at the start - four penalties for 35 yards in the first quarter - helped Tennessee (2-1) take an early lead, but it was fleeting and the Ducks led 38-7 at halftime.

Justin Worley completed 13 of 25 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown for the Volunteers, who opened the season with easy home wins over Austin Peay and Western Kentucky. But Tennessee could not keep up with the speedy Ducks, who had 687 yards in total offense compared to 316 for the Vols.

Oregon was the first of a tough stretch for the Volunteers and first-year coach Butch Jones: No. 18 Florida, No. 9 Georgia, No. 13 South Carolina and No. 1 Alabama are among Tennessee's next five opponents.

Oregon's first chance to score was Alejandro Maldonado's 37-yard field goal attempt, which went wide left. On the next series Tennessee drove 80 yards in six plays and scored on Worley's 4-yard touchdown pass to Jason Croom.

After Mariota's 19-yard run got the Ducks to the Tennessee 9-yard line, a fumble and a sack pushed Oregon back to the 15. De'Anthony Thomas appeared to have a 4-yard touchdown catch on fourth down, but it was called back because of pass interference on Oregon and the Ducks settled for a 38-yard field goal by Matt Wogan.

Oregon pulled in front 10-7 before the first quarter ended with Mariota's 16-yard pass to Mundt. Lyerla was a surprise absence, apparently because of a stomach virus.

Mariota's 9-yard touchdown run extended the lead. During the game, the sophomore became just the fourth quarterback in Oregon history to rush for more 1,000 yards in his career.

Huff was on the run when Mariota hit him and he ran untouched for a 54-yard scoring reception. Oregon went up 31-7 on Mariota's 45-yard touchdown pass to Daryle Hawkins.

Jones pursed his lips on Tennessee's sideline while the Ducks' student section taunted with chants of ``S-E-C, S-E-C!'' and ``We want `Bama!''

Thomas added a 28-yard scoring run for the Ducks before halftime. Tennessee defensive lineman Trevarris Saulsberry was helped from the field following the TD, but it was unclear how he was hurt.

Mariota had collected 350 passing yards by the break. He easily extended his string of at least one touchdown in all of his 16 games for Oregon. The streak is third among active quarterbacks.

Mariota found Mundt with a 17-yard scoring pass early in the second half. Mundt was the first Oregon tight end with at least 100 yards receiving since Ed Dickson in 2009.

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