Oregon State Dominates Cal, 35-7

Rodgers runs for 119 yards, 3 TDs
Jeremy Lloyd

Gameday Photo Gallery:

CORVALLIS -- With his brother James watching from the sidelines in crutches for the second straight game, out for the season with an injured knee, Jacquizz Rodgers looked like he had his mind set on making enough explosive plays for two Rodgers brothers in Oregon State’s must-win home contest against Cal.

And right from the start, the speedy and deceptive playmaker they call Quizz had his fingerprints all over the Beavers’ first three possessions. After less than 20 minutes of play, Rodgers had already churned up the turf en route to 85 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns on the ground and another score through the air on a well-executed halfback pass to carry his team to a commanding 21-0 early-game lead.

Rodgers finished the game with an impressive 119 yards, 3 rushing touchdowns and 1 passing touchdown, as OSU picked up a big 35-7 win over the Cal Golden Bears to remain tied for second place in the Pac-10. But Rodgers wasn’t the only player in orange and black who impressed the crowd of 45,439 that showed up at Reser Stadium despite dreary conditions for the school’s annual homecoming game.

Ryan Katz once again completed a solid 20 of 28 pass attempts for 184 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions, and seven OSU receivers got their hands on the pigskin, led by Marcus Wheaton’s 6 grabs for 57 yards. It was the Beaver defense, however, that really dominated the flow of the game, holding Cal scoreless until a garbage time touchdown with 20 seconds remaining.

It was all OSU early and often, as Joe Halahuni followed up the three Rodgers-led scoring drives with a 17-yard TD snag of his own in the second quarter, complements of a nice pass from Katz. Meanwhile, a smothering and swarming Beaver defense didn’t allow the Golden Bear offense to pass midfield the entire half, resulting in a commanding 28-0 lead after two quarters of play. Rodgers made it into the end zone one more time early in the third quarter for the only OSU score of the second half.

The Beavs looked lean, mean and hungry for a win after a disappointing overtime loss to Washington two weekends prior, and essentially slammed the door shut on any hopes of a Cal comeback before the band came out on the field for the halftime show.

Oregon State hits the road next weekend to take on UCLA at 4 pm in a game that will be broadcast on Versus.

Oregon defends its ranking, 42-31

Ducks force 7 turnovers in desert heat
Staff Report

TEMPE, Ariz. - The air let out of its pounding running game, No. 5 Oregon switched gears to a big-play passing offense.

That shrink-the-field defense? No adjustment needed there.

Darron Thomas threw for 260 yards and two scores, and Oregon forced seven turnovers to pull away in the second half for a 42-31 win over Arizona State Saturday night in the Pac-10 opener for both teams.

"You see that the defense came out in the second quarter and played an awesome game, helped us out on offense," Thomas said. "We never no doubt that we weren't going to put up points."

Arizona State (2-2) held the nation's second-leading rushing team to 145 yards - 235 below its average - and used its up-tempo offense to build a 10-point lead late in a first half.

Oregon (4-0) rallied behind Thomas' arm, scoring two touchdowns in the final 2:21 and blowing it open with two more scores in the third quarter.

Thomas, who replaced dismissed starter Jeremiah Masoli in the offseason, had a four-touchdown first half against Portland State last week and added more big plays against Arizona State. He threw for 260 yards and TD passes to Josh Huff and Jeff Maehl while the running game stalled through the first three quarters.

That part was a bit of a surprise; Thomas is known more for his running abilities.

"They forced us to do some things, but I thought Darron made some plays when he really had to," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said.

The ballhawking defense simply did what it always does.

The national leader in total and scoring defense, Oregon gave up plenty of yards: 597, Arizona's most since 2000.

The Ducks just made the plays when they had to, recovering three fumbles and intercepting Steven Threet four times, including three in the fourth quarter as Arizona State kept trying to come back.

"You can't win if you turn the ball over seven times, plain and simple," said Threet, who threw for 387 yards and three touchdowns. "There's no other way to put it."

Oregon passed one road test by knocking off Tennessee and faced what figured to be a tougher one against an improved Arizona State team. On top of that, it was unusually hot, even for the desert: 100 degrees at kickoff. Even the sauna-like practice sessions early in the week could prepare the Ducks for that.

Arizona State went right at Oregon from the start, missing a field goal on its first possession and scoring on the second when Deantre Lewis flashed a burst of speed at the Ducks on the way to a 53-yard touchdown.

Then poof! The lead was gone.

LaMichael James scored 64 seconds later, taking the left corner and taking off, leaving a trail of Arizona State defenders in his wake for a 40-yard touchdown. Three plays later, Threet threw off his back foot as he was being hit and was intercepted by John Boyett, who returned it 39 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 Ducks' lead.

Arizona State didn't back down, at least not yet.

Threet hit Mike Willie on an on-the-run, on-the-money 10-yard touchdown, then Thomas Weber hit a 34-yard field goal. Threet followed with a double-teaming-splitting 28-yard touchdown pass to Kerry Taylor to put Arizona State up 24-14, one play after Omar Bolden intercepted Thomas.

Still not good enough; Oregon absorbed the blows and got back to doing what it does best, scoring quickly.

The Ducks moved 80 yards in 83 seconds their next drive for Maehl's diving 12-yard touchdown catch. Next drive, after the D held, was even quicker: three plays, 80 yards, 30 seconds, set up by a 61-yard reception by David Paulson and capped by Thomas' TD run.

Oregon, after all those big plays and momentum swings, led 28-24 at the half.

"We had them in our back pocket," said Willie, who had five catches for 74 yards. "We could have put them away. We let them back in with a couple of turnovers, and you can't give a good team opportunities. We gave them some opportunities and they turned it up."

The Ducks kept on the gas in the third quarter, scoring on a pump-faking 54-yard pass from Thomas to Huff and Boseko Lokombo's 32-yard fumble return on a sideways pass the Sun Devils thought was an incomplete pass.

Trailing 42-24, Threet tried to rally the Sun Devils, hitting Willie on a 15-yard touchdown pass. It turned out to be Arizona State's last chance; Lewis lost a fumble on the next drive and Threet had three passes intercepted in Oregon's side of the field in the fourth quarter.

"We kind of weathered the storm, Kelly said.

Like they always do.

Beavers suffer another tough loss

Boise State makes another statement
Staff Report

BOISE, Idaho - The noise was everywhere for Boise State. The Broncos faced another so-called statement game on national television, this time with the pregame show held right on their blue turf.

The distractions didn't get to Kellen Moore, who showed that with him at the helm the No. 3 Broncos can overcome a flawed performance. Especially at home.

Boise State floppy-haired quarterback saw his Heisman Trophy stock rise Saturday night. Moore completed 19 of 27 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns, Doug Martin rumbled for 138 yards and the Broncos overcame a litany of special teams miscues and penalties to hold off No. 24 Oregon State 37-24.

"This seems like it's been a long day, a long day. I think the good thing about this game is we were able to come out with a 'W.' But I think everybody in the locker room knows how hard we made it on ourselves," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "At times we were very, very frustrated with ourselves, with just some really costly penalties. I think our special teams play we need to tight up a little bit.

But, he added, "We're proud of our guys. We know they hear the noise out there."

Kicking off just eight hours after the popular ESPN show College GameDay broke down its stage that sat at the 40-yard line on the blue turf, the Broncos (3-0) got away with their mistakes, but as always the question is did they look dominant enough to impress poll voters.

Boise State's student section started chanting "B-C-S" in the final minute, but blowouts are what will be expected in the coming weeks as the Broncos reach the soft section of their schedule.

"I think we really don't care," Moore said. "It's three games out of 12. This is only a fourth of the season. It's a long way. We've got a lot of football to take care of."

The critics are likely to come out after Boise State failed to pull away from the Beavers, maybe the most talented team left on the Broncos' schedule. Still, Boise State ran its home winning streak to 57 straight in the regular season and picked up their third straight win over a Pac-10 school in what will likely be its last game against a ranked team until at least November.

Moore was the catalyst as usual. His most impressive moment came in the first half when he spun away from the sack attempt of Oregon State's Brandon Hardin, then hit Austin Pettis for 26 yards, part of the 235 yards Moore threw for in the first half.

But Martin was the closer for Boise State. He had 119 yards in the second half, touching the ball on eight of nine plays on Boise State's final drive that ate up more than seven minutes and led to Kyle Brotzman's clinching 30-yard field goal.

Austin Pettis caught a 17-yard TD pass - this time without the somersault that landed him in Petersen's doghouse a week ago - and threw a 6-yard TD pass off a reverse to Tommy Gallarda in the first quarter.

The Oregon State (1-2) combo of Jacquizz and James Rodgers never got started offensively, even though James returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter - the first punt return score of his career.

Jacquizz Rodgers was held to 46 yards on 18 carries and a 4-yard TD run in the third quarter. James Rodgers was knocked out by an apparent concussion early in the third quarter while blocking on a scramble by quarterback Ryan Katz. Rodgers and Boise State safety Winston Venable collided helmet-to-helmet.

"I asked him how he was doing and he couldn't even find his helmet. He got his bell rung but I don't know anything beyond that," Beavers coach Mike Riley said. "He's obviously a big part of what we can do. We always expect the next guy to come in there and make some plays. It wasn't pretty execution wise."

Boise State led 24-10 at halftime and 31-17 early in the third quarter. Yet the countless mistakes by the Broncos kept Oregon State hanging around when they were statistically dominated.

The Broncos outgained Oregon State 469-237. Moore's numbers were nearly double that of Katz, who completed 12 of 26 passes for 159 yards.

"They were shooting the gaps a lot and keeping the pressure on us," Katz said. "They have a really fast defense and that gave us a lot of problems."

The counterbalances were Boise State's eight penalties, poor coverage on special teams and one big turnover.

"We made some kind of bonehead plays and kept them in the ball game," Boise State's Ryan Winterswyk said.

Down 24-10 in the third, Jacquizz Rodgers scored from the 4, slipping through the tackle of George Iloka at the line of scrimmage, finishing a drive kept alive by two personal foul penalties against Boise State.

Titus Young fumbled an Oregon State punt early in the fourth deep in Boise's end. That was followed by one of the wackier TDs scored on the blue turf when Joe Halahuni recovered the fumble of teammate Darrell Catchings in the end zone for a Beavers touchdown. Catchings caught an ill-advised throw from Katz that should have been intercepted by Jeron Johnson, fumbled as he dove to the goal line, but Halahuni was the only player in the area.

Ducks run over Viks, 69-0

Oregon scores early and often in another rout
Associated Press report

EUGENE - LaMichael James ran for 227 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns and fifth-ranked Oregon easily defeated Portland State 69-0 Saturday in the Ducks' final tuneup before Pac-10 play.

Oregon set a school record with 528 yards rushing, surpassing the mark 465 set at Washington in 2007.

Darron Thomas completed nine of 18 passes for 140 yards and four scores in the victory, Oregon's 11th straight at Autzen Stadium in a streak dating back to 2008.

The Ducks (3-0) sat most of their starters after the first half to give the reserves some work before Oregon visits Arizona State next weekend. Oregon outscored its opponents 189-13 in nonconference play.

The Vikings (2-1) of the FCS Big Sky Conference got as close as the Oregon 13 in the fourth quarter but the Ducks stopped them on fourth-and-1.

The Vikings also got close enough in the first half to give Zach Brown a 52-yard field goal attempt, but it went wide left in the miserably damp conditions.

Oregon is 4-0 all-time against the Vikings. With Saturday's loss, Portland State falls to 0-10 against the Pac-10 after a season-opening loss to Arizona State.

The Vikings, under first-year coach Nigel Burton, had no answer James, who had his 11th career game with at least 100 yards rushing.

James rushed for 1,546 yards last season to set a new Pac-10 freshman record. He was kept out of this season's opener against New Mexico while he served a one-game suspension for offseason misconduct. James pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment charges after an altercation with his ex-girlfriend.

James returned last weekend in Oregon's 48-13 victory at Tennessee, rushing for 134 yards and a score. In two games this season, he has gained 361 yards.

Fellow sophomore Thomas also continued his development after taking over as Oregon's starter this season. Thomas and fifth-year senior Nate Costa competed for the job in fall camp after last season' starter, Jeremiah Masoli, was dismissed in the offseason.

Thomas has shown he can scramble in coach Chip Kelly's spread offense, and some have even compared him to former Duck Dennis Dixon. Against the Vikings he gained 50 yards.

Conner Kavanaugh completed 8 of 21 passes for 18 yards in the Vikings' new pistol offense, where the running back lines up behind the quarterback. Portland State had just 140 yards total offense compared to Oregon's 668.

Burton took over this season at Portland State from Jerry Glanville, who was popular with players and fans alike but largely unable to help his team win. Portland State went 9-24 in three seasons under the gregarious former NFL coach.

The Vikings are 2-27 against Football Bowl Subdivision teams, defeating New Mexico 17-6 in 2006 and Hawaii 45-20 in 2000.

Oregon reported that three players left the game with muscle strains: backup running back Kenjon Barner, tight end David Paulson and left tackle Darrion Weems. The Ducks were not specific about the injuries to the three starters, but it did not appear that any were serious.

Beavers survive early lethargy, beat Louisville

OSU gets its first win of the season, 35-28
By Jeremy Lloyd,

Two weeks ago at this time the Beavers were battling it out with No. 4 TCU in the spectacle that is Cowboys Stadium, and a week from today, they’ll face perhaps an even tougher opponent on the smurf turf at No. 3 Boise State. So it was understandable, I suppose, when Oregon State found themselves tied at 14 with an unranked and unheralded Louisville team with 3:38 to go in the first half. After all, between looking forward and looking back, this is a team with a lot on their minds.

The first Louisville score came on a draw from QB Adam Froman (where have you seen that before, Beaver fans?), capping a drive that was a bit too quick and easy. But it could have been worse—not more than a few minutes earlier, Froman had fumbled the ball out of the end zone for a touchback. The Beavs responded quickly with a 9-play, 83-yard drive, orchestrated nicely by a confident looking QB Ryan Katz and capped by a 13-yard TD run from Jacquizz Rodgers. But then Louisville came right back with another efficient drive of their own to tie it up. Had Froman not fumbled on his first foray into the end zone, the Cardinals would have put up as many points at halftime as TCU did just two weeks earlier.

OSU was able to drive and score again before the half on the strength of a 63-yard kick return from James Rodgers to make it 21-14, but the underwhelming first half performance begged the question: The Beavers were physically in Corvallis, but mentally had they already boarded the plane for Boise?

It’s a relevant query, because this is a season where OSU can’t afford to go through the motions or look ahead to a big matchup, be it Boise State next week or the Civil War three months from now. Oregon State has athletic playmakers on both sides of the ball, a burgeoning young quarterback and a stout defense that held the high octane TCU offense to a single second-half touchdown.

The Beavers are a team that has always gotten up for big games, most notably two upset wins over USC in recent years. But if they really want to achieve the status of college football’s elite this season, they will have to bring it every minute of every game. It’s a mindset of dominance, and all top notch programs have it ingrained in their collective DNA. Maybe his type of mindset won’t mean the difference between a win or a loss against a middle of the pack Big East team, but it certainly could be the difference between a fourth place finish in the Pac-10 and a chance to upset Oregon in the Civil War to earn a trip to the Rose Bowl.

That’s right, I said it: This could be a special season for the Beavers. I believe it’s possible, and you may too, but does this team? You can see this belief manifest itself on the field when a superior team squashes an inferior opponent like an annoying insect, and the Beavs just didn’t have it.

Of course we all know how this story ends. Oregon State dominates the second half, puts up a bunch of points and wins with ease, right? Right?!? Well, not exactly. The Beavs put together two quick and efficient scoring drives of less than a minute and a half each to make it 35-14 with 9:28 to go in the 3rd quarter. But then Katz got knocked around, the offense faltered, the defense caved, and Louisville came right back with two scoring drives of their own to make it a 35-28 single score affair with just over 13 minutes to play in the game.

Please place your seat backs and tray tables in their upright position and get ready for takeoff… It’s 60 degrees and partly sunny in Boise. Thank you for flying Mental Departure Airlines, OSU football.

After a series of stalled drives and punts by both teams, Oregon State faced the unthinkable: Louisville ball with 1:33 to play and a chance to drive 93 yards for a touchdown and the tie, or go for 2 and win the game. Ironically, OSU found themselves in this very same position against TCU, backed up against their own end zone with 4 minutes to play and a golden opportunity for an upset. We all know how that went—the ball was snapped over Katz’ head for a safety to squash the OSU comeback attempt.

But on this drive, Froman had the Cardinals at midfield before you could blink. In the end, it took an athletic interception by James Dockery to seal the deal for the Beavers and avoid disaster on their home turf.

If you pick up the postgame box score, you’ll see that Jacquizz Rodgers had a nice 132-yard, 2-touchdown performance, and you might notice that Katz once again took care of the ball with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions—a good sign for a young quarterback. But the Beavers’ failure to put away an inferior opponent early at home, at least juxtaposed against the lofty aspirations of the program and its fan base, was a disappointment.

Soon OSU will get its wish—a real, not imaginary, trip to play Boise State—and you can bet that unlike this game, they’ll be up for it. But winning habits aren’t just formed during big games; it’s also in how you scrimmage, how you run drills, how you prep for gameday, and yes, how you play a team like Louisville. The Beavers may have won the battle today, but they took a step back in their war to break into the ranks of college football’s elite.

So keep your seatbelts fastened, OSU—it's a bumpy ride to the top.

Ducks handle Vols after slow start

Ducks strike quick after lightning delay
Staff Report

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – When Tennessee started slowing down, LaMichael James and his Oregon teammates picked up the pace.

James ran for 134 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown, in his first game back after a one-game suspension, and No. 7 Oregon scored 45 consecutive points to beat Tennessee 48-13 on Saturday night.

The Pac-10's leading returning rusher had only 27 yards at halftime after being targeted by the Volunteers' defense for the entire first half. He rushed for 25 yards on five carries in the Oregon's first second-half drive and then broke several tackles on the 72-yard touchdown run on the first play of the subsequent drive for the Ducks (2-0).

James, who rushed for a Pac-10 freshman record 1,546 yards in 2009, returned to action after serving his suspension for an offseason misdemeanor harassment charge.

Tennessee (1-1) went up 13-3 in the first half after an hour-long delay for lightning but fell apart after James' long run.

"We didn't make any adjustments in the second half," James said. "It comes down to tempo. Once the tempo gets going, it's hard to stop. Once those guys got tired we kept rolling."

Only fans in green and yellow remained in Neyland Stadium by the time Oregon was done scoring the most points by a Tennessee opponent there since Florida beat the Vols 59-20 in 2007. It was the most points by a nonconference opponent since Washington State, another Pac-10 school, won 52-24 in 1988.

The Vols were penalized for having an ineligible receiver on one play and a false start on another. A pass by Matt Simms intended for Zach Rogers was cleanly picked off by Cliff Harris, who returned it 76 yards for another score to give Oregon a 27-13 lead with 6:27 left in the third quarter.

"I was real disappointed from then on with how we competed," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. "You would have thought we were down 40."

Simms, who completed 15 of 29 for 151 yards, struggled to connect with his receivers. Tauren Poole and David Oku couldn't get their footing, and the Vols picked up only three more first downs.

Oregon plays host to Portland State, which won its first game under rookie coach Nigel Burton on Saturday, Saturday at Autzen Stadium.



Barner, Harris used their prime time well

But it's back to No. 2 this week
By Don Smalley,

Kenjon Barner rushed for a career-high 147 yards and four touchdowns. He also scored his fifth on a 60-yard screen pass.

Cliff Harris tied Oregon's SEASON record for punt returns for a touchdown when he went to the house twice in the second quarter in the 72-0 rout of New Mexico Saturday.

Despite those phenomenal performances, the two are exactly who they are.


Barner will go back to being the backup tailaback this Saturday as LaMichael James will regain his starting job as the Ducks will travel to Tennessee to face the Vols in Knoxville.

As for Harris, he's going back to backup duty on punt returns. Barner is the starter at that position.

"People want to put the guys in places where they just are not," head coach Chip Kelly said in his Tuesday press conference. "Returning two punts when it's 42-0 is great, but he's (Harris) still the backup. That's not a slight on Cliff. I love Cliff Harris. But we have one of the best returners in the nation in Kenjon. Just ask UCLA and Ohio State about that.

Barner will see plenty of time on the natural grass field of Neyland Stadium Saturday, but when you have a 1,500-plus-yard rusher returning from a one-game suspension, the depth chart will return to normal.

"LaMichael is the starter," Kelly said. "It's just like he is coming back from an injury."


Oregon will practice inside the Moshofsky Center all week at 86 degrees and 60 percent humidity, the exact forecast for the game in Knoxville.

The Ducks will also pump in as much crowd noice as possible, opening up with Tennessee's fight song, "Rocky Top."

The game is set to kickoff at 4 p.m. PST and televised on ESPN2.

Vikings show grit in loss to Arizona State

PSU gets three field goals from Zach Brown
Staff Report

TEMPE, Ariz. - Portland State took one on the chin in its season-opener losing to Arizona State, 54-9, on a 100-degree night at Sun Devil Stadium.

The Vikings got off to a good start, forcing Arizona State to a three-and-out on the Sun Devils' first possession. Then, starting quarterback Connor Kavanaugh drove PSU to a 42-yard field goal and a quick 3-0 lead.

ASU running back Cameron Marshall answered with a pair of long touchdown runs of 50 and 38 yards. The Sun Devils tacked on a safety and led 16-3 at the end of the first period.

Viking kicker Zach Brown kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal in the second period, pulling PSU within 16-6.

ASU added two more scores before halftime to take a 30-6 lead into the locker room. Marshall had just four carries in the first half, but they went for 104 yards and three touchdowns.

The Sun Devils defense, tops in the Pac-10 in 2009 and expected to be just as good this year, shut down the Vikings, allowing just 83 yards by halftime. Meanwhile ASU, ran up 341 yards of offense.

Following a quick ASU touchdown in the third period, Brown came back with another field goal - this time from 47 yards. It came after the Vikings' biggest play of the game, a 62-yard pass from Kavanaugh to Ray Fry.

But ASU's speed was too much on both sides of the ball as the Sun Devils eased to the win and ended a six-game losing streak.

Arizona State outgunned the Vikings 553-263 on offense as each team ran 66 plays. The Sun Devils had the element of the big play that the Vikings did not possess.

Kavanaugh completed 12-23 passes for 146 yards. Tygue Howland completed 6-14 passes for 63 yards and two interceptions.

The Vikings managed just 54 rushing yards against the Sun Devils speedy defense.

"We knew it was going to be a challenge," said Viking Coach Nigel Burton. "Arizona State has a great defense. They have got some guys.

"With a guy like Connor Kavanaugh, he is used to being able to escape the pocket. He can see a linebacker, shake him down and go. He wasn't able to pull away from these guys."

Brown's three field goals made him the star of the game as he now has made 21-28 in his 12-game Viking career.

Junior cornerback DeShawn Shead made six tackles, had two for losses and a sack. Sophomore linebacker Joel Sisler had an interception.

Katz gets a lifetime of education in four quarters

OSU's new starter at QB nearly pulls off a remarkable win
By Jeremy Lloyd,

Imagine you're OSU sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz. Only a handful of days ago you were at practice back home in Corvallis, secure in the non-contact bubble that a red jersey provides and giddy with anticipation for your first college start. Now flash forward to this Saturday night. The red jersey has been replaced with a figurative target on your back, you're down 7, 4:18 to go in the game, backuped up at your own 10, in Cowboys Stadium, the biggest spectacle in all of sports, and the #6 team in the country is getting ready to bring the pain.

It's times like these that can unnerve even the coolest of veterans, let alone a guy who had thrown all of 27 passes in his career--all in garbage time. So what do you do? Katz freaked out and tried to call an audible--something he hadn't attempted all game--frantically motioning to his backs and receivers as the play clock ticked down, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6... When it hit 5, the center, obviously confused by all the commotion, snapped it over Katz' shoulder, forcing the QB to kick it through the back of the end zone for a safety, and effectively ending the game.

Lesson #1 of a young quarterback's career: Don't freak out, or your teammates will do the same. Write that one down, kid. And while you're at it, get a bigger notebook, because there will be plenty more lessons to come. But these are the lessons, if put into proper perspective, that can give a figidy young QB nerves of steel when the moment presents itself again. After all, what's the worst that could happen, giving up a safety down 7 with the game on the line? Been there, done that.

When it was all over the scoreboard read TCU 30, OSU 21, with Katz completing only a pedestrian 9 of 25 pass attempts for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns. But there were also some bright spots in the kid's play--including a perfect ball to a streaking Jordan Bishop in the second quarter to put the Beavs up 14-7--that make you think he has both the arm and touch to get the job done for OSU in Pac-10 play. A solid quarterback next to the talented Rodgers brothers and a defense that always seems to get the job done (Saturday's performance excluded) could make for a very interesting Pac-10 season.

So take your medicine, kid, learn your lesson and get ready for the next game. After all, it doesn't get any easier--Boise State is only three weeks away.

Oregon scores 72 in win over New Mexico

Barner makes running back the next backfield question
Staff Report

EUGENE – The Oregon Ducks swept away an off-season of discontent with a resounding victory to open the college football season Saturday at Autzen Stadium.

Kenjon Barner and Darron Thomas seamlessly filled the roles of running back and quarterback and No. 11 Oregon routed New Mexico 72-0 in a non-conference game.

With running back LaMichael James suspended for a game, Barner scored five touchdowns, four on the ground and another via a pass from Thomas. He ran for a career-high 147 yards as Oregon racked up a school-record 720 yards in total offense.

Thomas completed 13 of 23 passes for 220 yards and two scores in his debut as starter after the dismissal of incoming senior Jeremiah Masoli earlier in the year.

The Ducks wiped away the summer’s issues by tying a team record for points.

“I guess it says a lot,” said Barner, whose play now makes the starting role at running back an issue. “Numbers don’t lie.”

Oregon’s point total tied the Autzen Stadium record the Ducks set in 1999 against Nevada. The most points Oregon has ever scored is 115, against Puget Sound back in 1910.

New Mexico was also looking for a fresh start. The Lobos were 1-11 last season under coach Mike Locksley, who had an altercation with a former assistant and was named in a sexual harassment complaint.

But the Lobos, who managed just 107 total yards on offense, were no match for last year’s Pac-10 champions. B.R. Holbrook made his debut as New Mexico’s starter, and completed just 11 of 24 passes for 70 yards with two interceptions.

Barner subbed for James because the running back was suspended for a game after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge that stemmed from a conflict with an ex-girlfriend.

Last season James grabbed national attention by rushing for a team-high 1,546 yards, setting a new record for freshmen in the Pac-10. He averaged 6.7 yards and added 14 TDs to earn the league’s freshman of the year honors.

James watched from the sideline Saturday wearing an “O” T-shirt and khaki shorts. He will return to the Ducks next weekend when they visit Tennessee.

Also a return specialist, Barner had 1,553 all-purpose yards last season. He had 225 against New Mexico, and his one catch was a 60-yard catch and run from Thomas in the second quarter.

“I’ve been saying all along, I think he’s the most underrated player in the country,” Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. “Today he got a chance to shine. We’ve always felt that we’ve had 1A and 1B. We run the ball 40 times a game; one guy is not going to get all the carries.”

Standing in for Barner on the return team was Cliff Harris, who returned two punts for touchdowns, an Oregon record for one game.

Masoli had been expected to lead the Ducks at QB this season, but he was accused in a fraternity house theft in January and wound up pleading guilty to a burglary charge. Kelly finally kicked him off the team when he was stopped by police for a traffic violation and marijuana was found in the car.

Masoli has since gone to play at Mississippi, which was upset by Jacksonville 49-48 in double overtime Saturday.

Thomas played in five games as a true freshman in 2008, completing 16 of 33 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Called upon when Oregon was hit by a slew of injuries, Thomas came close to leading the Ducks to a come-from-behind victory against Boise State that season before redshirting in 2009.

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