|Date of game: 9/6/2014
Recap: Oregon vs. Michigan State
Eugene, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - Marcus Mariota and Oregon rose to the occasion in the biggest non-conference game in Autzen Stadium history, with the star quarterback directing a second-half comeback that vaulted the third- ranked Ducks to a 46-27 victory over No. 7 Michigan State.
Mariota threw a pair of touchdown passes in the third quarter and Royce Freeman ran for two more in the fourth, part of a 28-point swing that brought Oregon (2-0) back from a 27-18 deficit and enhanced its credentials for a possible berth in the College Football Playoff down the line.
Mariota finished with 318 yards and three touchdowns on a 17-of-28 completion rate. Devon Allen hauled in two of those scoring strikes while amassing 110 yards on three catches.
"We're 2-0, but it doesn't change our mentality at all," Mariota said. "We want to build up on this win for the rest of the year.
Michigan State (1-1) dug itself out of an early hole by scoring 20 straight points between the second and third quarters and received career efforts from quarterback Connor Cook and wideout Tony Lippett, but stumbled down the stretch to have an 11-game win streak come to an end.
Cook completed 29-of-47 attempts for a personal-best 343 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Lippett racked up 11 catches totaling 133 yards with a touchdown in the setback.
"Our main goal at Michigan State is to make it to the Big Ten championship game," said Cook. "As long as we do that, everything else will fall into place.
The Ducks appeared in serious trouble after Michigan State's sturdy defense forced a pair of punts to start the second half and Michael Geiger's 43-yard field goal extended the Spartans' lead to nine points midway through the third quarter.
Mariota answered the bell, however, converting a pair of critical third downs on a momentum-changing 8-play, 59-yard drive he capped by hitting a wide-open Allen on a busted coverage for a 24-yard score that pulled the Ducks within 27-25.
Oregon's defense then induced a quick three-and-out to give the Ducks the ball back near midfield. Shortly afterward, Keanon Lowe got behind the Spartan secondary and Mariota found him in stride for a 37-yard touchdown that put Oregon ahead with 1:34 left in the third.
Michigan State again failed to move the chains on its next touch, sending its tired defense back out on the field. It took the Ducks just two plays to reach the end zone again, this time on Freeman's 38-yard burst on a perfectly- blocked zone read that staked Oregon to a 39-27 advantage 41 seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Spartans were able to move inside the Oregon 25 on their next possession, but Jeremy Langford was stuffed on 4th-and-2. Their following series ended in Cook being intercepted by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu in Ducks' territory with just under eight minutes left.
Oregon then delivered the dagger, churning out 96 yards in 11 plays to put the game out of reach. Mariota's 40-yard run highlighted the sequence, which Freeman finished with a 14-yard TD scamper with 1:25 to go.
Both defenses were stout early on, with Oregon's unit coming up with the game's first big play on an Erick Dargan interception that was returned 36 yards to the MSU 39 around nine minutes in.
Byron Marshall's 22-yard catch and Mariota's 11-yard scramble quickly got the Ducks inside the Spartan 10, with Thomas Tyner finishing the drive with a 1- yard touchdown run on fourth down. Oregon then faked the extra point try, which resulted in holder Taylor Alie finding DeForest Buckner for the conversion and an 8-0 lead.
After the Spartans' offense again stalled on the subsequent series, Mariota hit Darren Carrington over the middle for a 64-yard gain on the opening play of the second quarter to set up Matt Wogan's 28-yard field goal.
In need of a response, Michigan State got one when Cook engineered an 8-play, 76-yard march that Langford capped with a 16-yard touchdown run through a gaping hole just over four minutes into the second.
The Ducks swiftly countered, however, with Allen making a fingertip catch of Mariota's deep strike and shaking off a tackle en route to a 70-yard score a mere 45 seconds after Langford's TD.
Michigan State kept its composure, though, and ripped off the final 17 points of the first half to take a 24-18 advantage into the break.
R.J. Shelton's 59-yard kick return led to Geiger knocking through a 34-yard field goal to begin the surge. Cook hit on three straight passes on the Spartans' next trip, including a 7-yard bullet to Lippett that completed a short 38-yard jaunt and cut the Ducks' lead to 18-17 with 2:26 remaining in the half.
Oregon's offense was stymied once again on the ensuing possession, with the Spartans taking over 1:27 prior to the intermission. Cook connected on two more big throws, a 34-yard strike to Lippett on third down and a 7-yarder to Josiah Price with 18 seconds on the clock that sent Michigan State in front.Game Notes
The game was the first non-conference tilt ever at Autzen Stadium between
teams both ranked in the top 10 ... Michigan State was involved in its first
regular-season matchup between top-10 foes since taking on then-No. 1 Notre
Dame in November of 1966 ... Mariota now has 69 TD passes and 8.479 yards of
total offense, both Oregon school records. He shared the passing touchdown
mark with Darron Thomas entering the game and surpassed Bill Musgrave for the
total offense record ... Freeman finished with 89 yards on 13 carries ...
Langford had 86 yards on 24 attempts for Michigan State.