2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - Nevada at Oregon
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Sept. 10 at Oregon 69 ... Nevada 20
CFN Analysis: Oregon came out ticked off and ready to make amends for the performance against LSU. Darron Thomas was brilliant, completing 13-of-19 passes for 295 yards and the touchdowns, and the running game was along for the ride with six different players combining for 272 yards and two scores. The offense only had the ball for 21:42, but it didn’t need that much time rolling at will on a Nevada defense that couldn’t do anything to slow down the machine. The Ducks will hang 70+ on Missouri State next week before going to Arizona to start out the Pac-12 season, but even with all the big numbers about to come, the LSU game is still too fresh. It’ll be tough to get the respect back until the Stanford game in mid-November.
This wasn’t exactly the way Nevada wanted to come out after the amazing 2010. Oregon was going to rock against anyone, but the Pack really struggled in all phases defensively and didn’t do enough to keep up the pace. Tyler Lantrip was fine directing the offense, throwing for 219 yards and a touchdown, and Mike Ball ran for 99 yards averaging 7.1 yards per carry, but three turnovers and almost no big stops early on defensively made it a laugher. The trip to San Jose State next week should make the stats look better, and Lantrip and the ground game should go ballistic. With road trips to Texas Tech and Boise State to follow, the defense has to show it can play against someone other than the Ducks.
(AP) EUGENE, Ore. -- There's no doubting the Thomases at Oregon.
Darron Thomas matched a school record with six touchdown passes and the 13th-ranked Ducks rebounded from their season-opening loss to beat Nevada 69-20 on Saturday.
True freshman De'Anthony Thomas, no relation to his quarterback, caught two passes -- both for touchdowns.
"I came out this game really determined to not let the last game happen," Darron Thomas said.
Oregon (1-1) was ranked No. 3 in the country until that loss to then-No. 4 LSU last week at Cowboys Stadium sent the Ducks tumbling in the rankings and left many wondering how they would respond.
Oregon's speedy spread option got back on track and racked up 603 yards in total offense against the Wolf Pack, 272 on the ground and 331 in the air.
LaMichael James ran for just 67 yards and a touchdown, but he also caught a long scoring pass from Thomas and returned a punt for a score to help the Ducks (1-1) to their 17th straight victory at Autzen Stadium.
"I knew everybody was looking to see how we'd bounce back," Darron Thomas said.
Tyler Lantrip, a fifth-year senior making his first career start, completed 21 of 35 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown for Nevada, which was playing its season opener.
The loss snapped Nevada's seven-game winning streak, which dated to last season when the Wolf Pack went 13-1 and were ranked No. 11 to end the season.
Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault looked both angry and exhausted after the game.
"To make it that easy for somebody?" he asked. "No, that's unacceptable."
After facing unrelenting pressure in a 40-27 loss to LSU, Darron Thomas was controlled and confident, completing 13 of 19 passes for 295 yards. He was replaced late in the third quarter by backup Bryan Bennett.
The six TD tosses matched the single-game school record set twice by Joey Harrington and once by Danny O'Neil.
Oregon built a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. Darron Thomas immediately answered the critics who questioned why he didn't run more against LSU by sprinting for a 26-yard gain on Oregon's first drive. James punched it in 4 yards for the score, but the 2-point try didn't work.
Nevada got within field-goal range later in the quarter, but Anthony Martinez's 38-yard attempt was blocked by John Boyett. Oregon's ensuing series was highlighted by De'Anthony Thomas' 62-yard dash and capped by Darron Thomas' 3-yard scoring pass to Lavasier Tuinei.
Troy Hill intercepted Lantrip's pass on the Oregon 11 and ran it back 45 yards before Darron Thomas hit James with a 44-yard pass to make it 20-0.
Darron Thomas also found Rahsaan Vaughn with a 25-yard scoring pass and freshman tight end Colt Lyerla with a 20-yard TD strike.
Nevada scored with 1:52 left in the half on Lantrip's 5-yard pass to Mike Ball, but the Ducks quickly answered with Darron Thomas' 24-yard scoring pass to De'Anthony Thomas to make it 41-7 at the break.
Lantrip is taking over at quarterback for Nevada this season after the storied career of four-year starter Colin Kaepernick, a second-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in this year's NFL draft.
Lantrip had thrown just 23 career passes going into the game at notoriously loud Autzen Stadium. He was intercepted twice by the Ducks.
"We just made some mistakes that regardless of whether it was our first game or our last game, we shouldn't have made," he said.
Oregon opened the second half with James' 58-yard punt return to make it 48-7.
James, a Heisman finalist who averaged more than 144 yards rushing last season, was held to 54 yards by LSU last weekend. Against Nevada he showed his versatility, helping out on punt returns in the absence of fellow running back Kenjon Barner, who did not play because of an ankle injury sustained against LSU.
Nevada's Stephon Jefferson had a 1-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to make it 48-13.
On the next series, Darron Thomas hit De'Anthony Thomas with another touchdown pass, this time a 69-yarder.
Nevada's Cody Fajardo ran 7 yards for a score to make it 55-20 midway through the fourth quarter, but Oregon redshirt freshman Ayele Forde added a 26-yard scoring run with 2:24 left and Boseko Lokombo's 67-yard interception return with 20 seconds left provided the final margin.
De'Anthony Thomas, a highly recruited running back out of Crenshaw High School in Southern California, had a couple of costly fumbles in the opener against LSU that he felt he had to rebound from against the Wolf Pack.
"I've been working hard all week," he said. "Just hold the ball high and tight. High and tight."
De'Anthony Thomas ran for 81 yards, and he had 93 yards receiving on those two touchdown catches.
The loss was costly for Nevada, which lost starting tight end Zack Sudfeld to an injury in the third quarter. Following the game Ault said that Sudfeld, a senior, had broken his leg and would likely miss the rest of the season.
Oregon reinstated linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback/kick returner Cliff Harris for the game. Both had been suspended indefinitely after offseason offenses.
Alonso was reinstated for the game by coach Chip Kelly on Friday. The senior was suspended in May after an alcohol-related offense.
Harris, an All-American who broke up 23 passes last season and averaged 18.8 yards per punt return, was reinstated just before Saturday's game. His suspension came after he was cited for driving 118 mph with a suspended license in June.
The Ducks lead the all-time series against Nevada 6-1.
Oregon has not dropped a home opener since 2004.
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Nevada (0-0) at Oregon (0-1) Sept. 10, 3:30, FX
Here’s The Deal … Having lost a regular season game for the first time since November of 2009, Oregon is determined to regroup as quickly as possible. Having lost to LSU, 40-27, in the game of the week, the Ducks are probably not making a return to the BCS National Championship Game. Their goals, however, remain fairly well intact. The program is still targeting a Rose Bowl trip and third straight conference title. Oh, and if it can gradually reach a slow boil, who’s to say a 12-1 Oregon team can’t work its way back into the national championship discussion? Nevada is one of the small handful of FBS programs that was idle at the start of the season. The Wolf Pack is about to undergo a bit of a transition in 2011. Yeah, it went 13-1 a year ago, its best season ever, but must begin life without three all-time greats, QB Colin Kaepernick, RB Vai Taua and DE Dontay Moch. A trip to Eugene will force the Pack to adapt without much of a net.
Why Nevada Might Win: While you certainly don’t get better by losing Kaepernick and Taua, head coach Chris Ault’s Pistol offense still has a few bullets in the chamber. The system is designed to spread the field and gets its best athletes in space. It’ll be operated by QB Tyler Lantrip, a savvy distributor who’s been in the system for five years. He’ll be well-protected by the Chris Barker-led line, and welcomes back top receiver Rishard Matthews. The Ducks are still sifting through their own defensive issues, injecting a handful of new starters into the lineup.
Why Oregon Might Win: The Pack has good speed on defense, but will look a little heavy-legged at Autzen Stadium. After losing consecutive games to LSU in Week 1 and Auburn in January, the Ducks are eager to get in front of a non-SEC D. Oregon is itching to break out, turning loose prolific RB LaMichael James and rising QB Darron Thomas. The offense can score in bunches, knocking out opponents with a quick-strike offense. The D, while in transition, played much better than the final score indicated. It yielded just 273 total yards, including less than four yards a carry.
What To Watch Out For: The surprise starter in the Nevada backfield is Nick Hale, who has ascended above veterans Mike Ball and Lampford Mark at running back. The 210-pound former College of the Canyons transfer won’t make defenders miss, a concern against the swarming Ducks defense. Oregon was pleased with the play of the back seven, which got to the ball very quickly in the LSU loss. S John Boyett and linebackers Michael Clay and Dewitt Stuckey, in particular, will help keep the Nevada ground game in check.
What Will Happen: Oregon might be prone to a hangover. It’s more likely, instead, to play with an attitude following Saturday’s humbling loss. The Ducks are about to regain last year’s regular season form, racing up and down the field to break Nevada’s spirit. The Pack will be in the wrong place at the wrong time, suffering the wrath of a program out to prove it’s still the frontrunner in the Pac-12. Oregon’s Chip Kelly has yet to decide the fate of suspended CB Cliff Harris. The head coach can slap his star’s wrist for one more week without suffering any consequences.
CFN Prediction: Oregon 48 … Nevada 21
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Oregon -26 O/U: 63
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