CORVALLIS — Despite the loss of quarterback Justin Herbert late in the first half, the Oregon football team road its running game and a stout defense to a 55-15 victory over Oregon State on Friday before 39,776 fans in Reser Stadium.
The Ducks wrapped up their first regular season under head coach Mario Cristobal at 8-4 overall, a game better than their 2017 win total, and 5-4 in the Pac-12. Oregon will await results from around the country over the next two weekends to determine its bowl fate.
"We wanted to continue to get better at playing on the road, in difficult environments," said Cristobal, whose team had lost three straight on the road. "So we made that a huge point of emphasis. And we wanted to start fast, and we started fast, and continued building momentum."
In the short term, all eyes will be on the status of Herbert, who was sacked late in the first half Friday and did not return. Freshman Tyler Shough replaced him for the final possession of the second quarter, and Braxton Burmeister played the second half, with Herbert watching from the sideline in street clothes.
Oregon's rushing attack was more than enough to get the job done against Oregon State (2-10, 1-8). Freshmen CJ Verdell and Travis Dye accounted for seven touchdowns and 411 all-purpose yards, and Thomas Graham Jr. followed up his breakout game over Arizona State the week before with a pick-six in the fourth quarter.
"They had some open holes, but they ran hard," Cristobal said of the young backs, who accounted for 386 rushing yards. "They broke tackles."
Verdell scored on a swing pass and two runs as Oregon jumped out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Beavers got on the board with a field goal just before halftime, following the sack that knocked Herbert out of the game.
After Dye scored early in the second half for a 28-3 lead, steady ran began to fall. Oregon State then scored to get within 28-9 and the game began to hint at shades of 2016, when OSU rallied from behind to win in a driving rain storm.
But the Ducks put a stop to that with Verdell's fourth touchdown late in the third quarter, followed by Graham's interception and another TD apiece for Dye and Verdell in the fourth quarter. Graham's second interception set up Verdell's fifth and final touchdown, and gave Oregon 20 points off four OSU turnovers.
"Today our guys responded, and probably played some of our best football up front," Cristobal said. "Controlled the line of scrimmage and had a real good ballgame."