Before the final minute of the second quarter, Oregon had two straight three-and-outs and all the momentum started to go back on the side of Kansas State.
Down just 15-10 with 3:55 to go in the half, the Wildcats got the ball back at midfield after Jackson Rice was unable to convert a first down on a fake punt. Anthony Cantele, who just came off of a made attempt, missed a 40-yard kick with a minute exactly left on the clock.
Turned out like most of the season, that was too much time for Oregon.
Marcus Mariota finally looked comfortable in the hurry-up offense and made great decisions, not forcing the ball and throwing it away when a play wasn’t there. Kenjon Barner also came through and eluded defenders. He became wide open on the sideline with an easy 24-yard touchdown catch with :14 left, making up for a missed opportunity earlier in the game when he lost sight of the ball.
Mariota completes the half going 6-12 passing for 106 yards and two touchdowns, more than half of those yards coming on that 46-second drive.
Also aiding in the halftime lead was the first 12 seconds of the game, when De’Anthony Thomas burst open with a 94-yard touchdown return, and Dion Thomas was a part of the typical two-point conversion that Oregon opens up with this season to take an early 8-0 lead.
As expected, Oregon is struggling running the ball against a really good defense. Five players combine for just 52 yards on 13 carries.
Kansas State is controlling the clock, something that they needed to do to stay in this game. They have had the ball for 21:09 in the first half, and Oregon is completely off schedule with just 25 plays ran.
If the Wildcats can keep things skewed their way and not let the Ducks have too many more quick scoring opportunities, they will have a chance to come back. For Oregon, they will need to see if they can establish that running game and build off of the momentum they got from the last score.