Ducks Defeat Huskers, 42-35
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon improved to 2-0 in dramatic fashion Saturday, jumping out to a 28-point lead in the first half and then surviving a scoreless second half to hold Nebraska, 42-35, before 58,389 fans in Autzen Stadium.
Justin Herbert threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns, Royce Freeman rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns and the UO defense intercepted four passes, the last by Ugochukwu Amadi to clinch the victory.
How It Happened: Oregon (2-0) exploded out of the gates, with Herbert throwing touchdown passes to Brenden Schooler and Charles Nelson in the opening few minutes, and Freeman rushing for a touchdown on the final play of the first quarter to give the Ducks a 21-7 lead. The home team scored another 21 in the second quarter, and rushing touchdowns by Freeman and Kani Benoit, and a Dillon Mitchell reception from Herbert.
The latter put the Ducks up 42-14 at the break. But the UO offense couldn't find any traction after halftime, and Nebraska's Tanner Lee threw a pair of TD passes to Stanley Morgan in the third quarter. In the fourth, Mikale Wilbon rushed for a touchdown after a Freeman fumble, and the Huskers forced a punt with 2:17 left. But Amadi intercepted a pass on the next play, and the Ducks held on.
Who Stood Out: Herbert completed 25-of-33 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns. Freeman had 29 carries to get his 153 yards and two scores, and Nelson caught eight passes for 117 yards. True freshman Thomas Graham Jr. started for the first time and had two interceptions, and Troy Dye led the Ducks with 11 tackles.
What It Means: The Ducks demonstrated some resiliency in holding on, but also showed that they still have room to improve in their first season under Willie Taggart.
Notable: Graham and safety Nick Pickett each made his first career start, joining classmates Austin Faoliu, Johnny Johnson III and Adam Stack in the starting lineup. … Senior Tyree Robinson started at safety after not playing in the opener, but didn't not see action in the second half due to injury. … The Ducks wore their "Project Elevate" uniforms to benefit OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Three three young cancer patients who helped design the uniforms — Ethan Frank, Joe MacDonald and Sophia Malinoski — announced Oregon's starting lineup prior to kickoff. … Oregon entered Saturday with a 1-6 record all-time against the Huskers. The Ducks' last win in the series was 20-12 in Lincoln, Neb., in 1953. Saturday's game wrapped up a home-and-home series that Nebraska opened with a 35-32 win in Lincoln last season.
Up Next: The Ducks take their first road trip under Taggart, playing at Wyoming next Saturday (4 p.m. PT, CBS Sports Network).