Can Oregon run its way to the Playoff?
With consecutive 300-yard rushing performances, the Ducks are trying to become the seventh team to make the playoff while averaging more yards on the ground than through the air.
(Eric Evans photo/GoDucks.com
EUGENE — Oregon has 233 passing yards in its last two games and it hasn’t mattered simply because the Ducks haven’t needed them.
Mario Cristobal was pretty matter of fact about it after UO’s 38-24 win Saturday. The Ducks rushed for 306 yards and four touchdowns against Washington State with quarterback Anthony Brown accounting for 123 of those yards on 17 carries.
“With what (Washington State) was doing, it called for him to use his legs tonight, Cristobal said. “And he did it.”
It was Oregon’s fifth consecutive win and third consecutive game in which the team rushed for 250 or more yards. Despite No. 1 running back C.J. Verdell’s season-ending injury in Week 5, the Ducks have only improved on the ground as the season’s worn on.
Travis Dye is averaging 6.0 yards per carry and is 92 yards shy of reaching 1,000 for the first time in his career. True freshman Byron Cardwell has cemented himself as the team’s No. 2 with 320 yards on 41 carries. Brown has posted the best rushing season by an Oregon quarterback since Marcus Mariota, with 551 yards and eight touchdowns.
As a team, the Ducks are rushing for more yards per game (226.5) than they are passing (214.8). Right now, that’s good for the No. 1 spot in the Pac-12 North and the No. 3 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings.
But it’s a stat discrepancy that also puts Oregon in rare air as it makes its push for a second playoff appearance in program history. In the seven years of the College Football Playoff, just six of the 28 teams have averaged more rushing yards per game than passing.
Those teams were: