On Saturday afternoon, the Oregon Ducks marched into Columbus and pulled off an upset. The Ducks defeated the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes, 35-28, in one of the more stunning early results of the NCAA football season.
Despite heading into a hostile environment at Ohio Stadium, the Ducks made it known early on that they were ready to play. Oregon’s running attack caused severe difficulties for Ohio State’s youthful and inexperienced defense, as the Ducks carried the ball 38 times for 269 yards and three touchdowns. The offensive line accomplished what it set out to do, and CJ Verdell and Travis Dye took care of the rest.
Ducks signal caller Anthony Brown did what he needed to do through the air, completing 17 of his 35 passing attempts for 236 yards with two scores and, perhaps most importantly, no interceptions. While Oregon wasn’t really going for the big play through the air, Brown completed passes to 11 receivers, with Verdell and Moliki Matavao finding the end zone.
The Buckeyes did have some success on offense, particularly through the air, as CJ Stroud went 35-for-54 with 484 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick. The receiving trio of Jaxson Smith-Njigba (seven receptions, 145 yards, two touchdowns), Chris Olave (12 catches, 126 yards), and Garrett Wilson (eight catches, 117 yards, a score) were able to do a ton of damage against the Ducks defense, while standout freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson punched one in on the ground.
However, Ohio State kept getting into difficulty at inconvenient moments. They converted only six of their 15 third downs and were 2-for-5 on fourth down attempts, while committing eight penalties for 71 yards. The Buckeyes, despite being a young team, are undoubtedly skilled enough to improve as the season progresses — as we all know, early losses can be overcome in the eyes of the Playoff committee — but they ran across a squad built to punish them early in the season, and the Ducks did just that.
For Oregon, this is the kind of colossal road win that might catapult a team that has been vying for a Playoff berth for years. Given how the Pac-12 has long been regarded by the selection committee, a win in Columbus early in the season would be the type of feather in the Ducks’ hypothetical cap that would help them overcome a probable defeat later on. Whether it happens or not remains to be seen, but this will go down as one of Mario Cristobal’s best victories in Eugene.