Ducks squander Justin Herbert’s spectacular performance on national stage

The aftermath of No. 7 Stanford’s 38-31 overtime victory over No. 20 Oregon was chaos. Stanford players yelled and screamed, running around with too much energy to channel. Within the chaos, ESPN’s sideline reporter Maria Taylor grabbed Stanford head coach David Shaw, running back Bryce Love and quarterback KJ Costello for the national postgame interview.

None of them played better than Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. But, the Ducks lost the game, and with it they lost Herbert’s opportunity for the national spotlight after a near-perfect game.

Herbert’s final stat line was 26-for-33 for 346 yards with one touchdown and interception, which was a tipped ball in overtime on fourth down. After regulation, Herbert was 25-for-27 — historic efficiency. He even finished with 25 rushing yards, but the other Ducks didn’t hold their end of the bargain.

“He was outstanding,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said. “He really was.”

This was Oregon’s first game in the prime-time spotlight during Herbert’s career. College GameDay was here, and the whole country was watching. Herbert shredded the Stanford defense early, and the country took notice of the quiet, under-the-radar Eugene native.

“It was a fun experience for sure to just be out there with the guys, and it was a great game, and unfortunately it didn’t bounce our way, but we’re not going to let that define us and we’ll be back at it this week,” Herbert said.

Oregon dominated early. The Ducks were beating Stanford at its own game. They owned both lines of scrimmage early, and Oregon was unstoppable on offense. But in the second half, the running game stalled. Oregon had 134 rushing yards in the first, but only 44 in the second half. Again, Herbert kept them in it.

Oregon’s Dillon Mitchell — who had an all-time Oregon receiver performance that will also be overshadowed — said it best.

“That’s the first NFL draft pick,” he said. “He’s going to come out there and do what he does every night.”

If Herbert does that every night, then Oregon will have a great season. Chances are he doesn’t. It’s the players around him that need to improve.

Redshirt junior Jake Hanson botched two snaps, one stalling Oregon’s drive, so the Ducks settled for a field goal. The other led to an 80-yard touchdown recovery by Portland, Oregon, native Joey Alfieri to give Stanford the momentum.

The Oregon defense, and Herbert, kept Stanford at bay, and it looked like the Ducks had the victory. But, Cristobal’s questionable clock management led to a CJ Verdell fumble that gave Stanford the ball back.

The Ducks paid the price for giving a top-10 team life.

Herbert still left his mark on the game, and the world took notice, but not before they talk about the Stanford comeback.

“We did everything we could to just give Stanford the game, and unfortunately things didn’t turn out the way we wanted to,” Herbert said.

That is true, except from Herbert’s perspective, it shouldn’t be “we.”

Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917

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Jack Butler

Jack Butler

I am the sports editor for the Daily Emerald. I cover football and basketball. Email me at [email protected]