Johnny Manziel was magnificent in defeating Alabama on the road as a freshman starting quarterback. As the college football world falls in love with him, Marcus Mariota gives his own brilliant performance. With the running game being shut down, Mariota threw for an efficient 27-34 passing, collecting 377 yards and six touchdowns, both highs in a game in his career. Right now on the season, he has over 2,000 yards passing and 28 touchdowns to five interceptions.
Kenjon Barner couldn’t follow up his terrific performance a week ago, only gaining 65 yards on 20 carries and zero touchdowns. He suffered a hand injury in the first half and while he did come back, the production level just wasn’t there. Give credit to the Golden Bears’ defense strategy going into the game.
But give even more credit to Mariota, who needed to win the game with his arm and succeeded with flying colors. It was the most unnerving 14-point lead at half that most teams in the nation would be comfortable with. The game still ended up out of reach by the end of the third quarter.
Again, it’s another balance of both halves, and the defensive line was battered around early on. They had three true freshman on the line, and at one point had two freshman at the corners. Dion Jordan was out of the game, and backup safety Avery Patterson was injured and doesn’t look like he’ll return soon. With what the team had, they played pretty well, and got better as the game went on.
Special Teams: C+
Brendan Bigelow returned seven kicks for an average of 24.4 yards, including a 57-yard return. Both teams had a couple of big returns on the night, but the return team should be better than that. Rob Beard was out of the game for an undisclosed reason, and Alejandro Maldonado did a good job coming in making his lone field goal attempt and all eight extra points.
With all the injuries the team had to face, the coaching staff did a good job attending to the players and getting players like Barner and Mariota back in there as soon as possible. Loved Chip Kelly’s response of “What?” when ESPN’s sideline reporter asked about all the injuries in the first half.
Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Autzen Zoo. See his banter with other FanSided writers and love for his favorite west coast professional teams by following him on Twitter.