Barner Sparks Ducks During Second-Half Struggles


It looked like another clean, easy victory for the Oregon Ducks. Going up 35-3 with 2:24 left in the second quarter, fans were already starting to celebrate while dominating the Fresno State defense and shutting down Derek Carr’s passing.

September 8, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Kenjon Barner (24) runs the ball against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE

After giving up over 400 yards of offense and 31 points when up big against Arkansas State, there’s no way the Ducks are going to play that bad on defense again.

Unfortuantely, those horrors started coming true in the second half. After picking up a field goal before ending the half, the Bulldogs were able to break through Oregon’s offensive line. Marcus Mariota was finally facing pressure, forcing bad passes and slowing the running attack. Three fumbles were given up by the Ducks in the third quarter.

The easy running attack led by Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas started to faulter. Heisman candidate Thomas amassed 128 all-purpose yards, but just had two rushes for two yards and three catches for 20 yards in the entire second half.

One guy that sparked the Fresno State comeback attempt was Robbie Rouse, taking advantage of Oregon stepping back and collecting 115 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown.

However, Barner stole the spotlight when things looked bleak after the Bulldogs got as close as 35-19 in the fourth quarter. He led an 11-play drive by the Ducks, sprinkled with a couple passes by Mariota to Thomas, picking up 66 yards on nine running plays. The drive lasted for nearly six minutes.

It was easy to see Fresno State’s defensive line give out toward the end, as a 15 and 16-yard run on the last two plays put Barner in the endzone for a 42-19 lead with 3:51 to go in the game.

The Bulldogs tacked on a late score, but the Ducks came out victorious by the final score of 42-25. Barner finished the game with 34 carries for 201 yards and three touchdowns.

September 8, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks running backs Kenjon Barner (24) and De

Many injuries, including one of the top wide receivers (Josh Huff) and their free safety (John Boyett). It’s been reported that Boyett could be facing season-ending surgery, which would be a huge blow to the defense.

Were the injuries the cause of a third-quarter surge by Fresno State? Did the Ducks mentally check out like they did against Arkansas State and not play as hard in the trenches? Is there a reason to be concerned about the wide receiver position?

It’s all up for debate, but right now Oregon is happy to mark a second win this season, and will address all these issues going into the next game against FCS opponent, Tennessee Tech.

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.

Read his other work on the Iowa State blog, Clones Confidential, and Lacrosse the Web.