It was business as usual for No. 23 Oregon on a sunny Saturday afternoon in September.
Led by quarterback Justin Herbert’s four touchdown passes in the first half, the Ducks (2-0) cruised to a 62-14 victory over Portland State (0-2).
Running backs Tony Brooks-James and CJ Verdell became the first Oregon players to cross the 100-yard rushing threshold this season. Brooks-James finished the game with a career-high 21 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns. After receiving five carries in last week’s season opener, Brooks-James really made his impression felt today, continuously bouncing off tackles to pick up extra yards.
“We felt Tony ran hard… he ran really hard today,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said.
Meanwhile, Verdell continued to show his big-play ability. He finished with 106 yards rushing on 11 carries (9.6 yards per carry) and one touchdown.
With last week’s slow start fresh in their minds, the Ducks got off to a much better start against the Vikings. Herbert found Jaylon Redd for an 18-yard scoring pass on the opening drive after Redd beat his man off the line of scrimmage. On the next possession, Herbert hit grad-transfer Tabari Hines in the flat for a 9-yard scoring pass.
The beginning wasn’t perfect though as the Ducks dropped the first three of Herbert’s passes. Each ball Herbert threw hit his receivers in the hands, but they were unable to corral them.
Herbert continued to carve up the Portland State defense the rest of the half, throwing touchdown passes to Johnny Johnson III and Kano Dillon. He finished the game going 20-of-26 for 250 yards and four scores.
With Herbert and the running game taking care of the offense, the defense played just as well.
The Ducks forced the Vikings into punts on four of their six first-half possessions. Another stop came when Jalen Jelks sacked Portland State quarterback Jalani Eason on fourth down.
Portland State got on the board when a breakdown in Oregon’s defense allowed Vikings tight end Charlie Taumoepeau to score on a 71-yard pass midway through the second quarter.
Taumoepeau finished with game-highs of five catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
After leading 35-7 at the break, the Ducks broke the game open when Brooks-James ran for his first touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. He would add another score midway through the fourth quarter before Verdell finished off the scoring late in the fourth.
Freshman running back Travis Dye also had a good day running the ball, showing tremendous burst and physicality. He finished with four carries for 58 yards and a touchdown while Cyrus Habibi-Likio added another touchdown in the first half.
“It was great to see Travis Dye hit the hole and run… really run the way an outside zone is supposed to run,” Cristobal said.
Oregon’s offense was as balanced as Cristobal likes, finishing with 532 total yards — 296 on the ground and 266 through the air.
The defense limited Portland State to 224 total yards. More impressively was holding the Vikings to 66 rushing yards after Portland State decided to start Eason, a running quarterback. The Ducks held the Vikings to an average of 1.6 yards per carry, lowering Oregon’s season average of giving up 2.24 yards per rush.
Oregon wraps up non-conference play next when it hosts San Jose State. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.