Oregon football’s 2021 season looked to be off to a scorching-hot start, mounting a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and then adding another touchdown to make it 21-6. It looked like the Ducks were about to cruise to an easy win to start the season in front of a packed Autzen Stadium, but Fresno State battled back.
The Bulldogs scored 18 unanswered points to take a 24-21 lead and really put the pressure on the overwhelmingly favored Ducks to come back and shut the door.
Fresno State had the ball with a little over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter and up by three when it looked like Jake Haener scrambled for a big first down, but was stripped and the ball was recovered by Oregon deep in the Bulldogs’ territory.
That fumble recovery really shifted the momentum.
Anthony Brown then scored the game-winning touchdown on a 30-yard scamper with just under three minutes left to win by seven. A collective sigh of relief was heard across Eugene when Brown scored the game-winning with just under three minutes left and the defense stood tall on the Bulldogs’ final possession to seal the victory.
Going from what looked to be an impending blowout to start the season to a tight one-score win over an average Mountain West foe caused some skepticism among the fanbase.
So should we be concerned?
Should we be concerned about Oregon football’s struggles?
Folks, it’s Week 1. This is the first real start to a season since 2019 and the Ducks showed some rust, especially with a new starter at quarterback. The offense just never got its footing and that’s OK given the fact that they still put some points on the board and scored when it needed to.
Oregon had plenty of offensive struggles, but it did finish with 186 rushing yards and Brown had 172 passing yards on 15-of-24 completions, but something needs to change.
This could have been a trap game because the Ducks were looking ahead to Ohio State in Week 2 and it’s hard to stay focused on Fresno State when everyone is talking about the Buckeyes. This can’t happen again and Mario Cristobal needs to make sure his team keeps focused on one game at a time, but looking around college football, the Ducks have to feel lucky that they weren’t upset.
Washington lost to Montana, Cal lost to Nevada, and Washington State lost to Utah State, so the Ducks have to feel lucky to have avoided the Week 1 upset bug.
This is a major learning experience and good thing it happened at the perfect time. Plus, the most growth in a team usually comes between Week 1 and 2.
Upsets happen, so no cause for concern just yet — especially since Fresno State had momentum after a 45-0 Week 0 win.