It didn’t take long to tell how the 121st edition of the Civil War would shake out.
The Ducks elected to receive the opening kickoff, and on their return, Oregon State was flagged 15 yards for an unsportsmanlike penalty.
Just seconds into the game, it was a sign of what became crystal clear throughout: Oregon State wasn’t prepared, mentally or physically, for what they were about to be in for. On Saturday night, the Ducks hit Oregon State in the mouth. Oregon sent off their seniors with 69-10 win, and took some of the sting away from last year’s loss to the Beavers.
“We did what we expected to do,” Troy Dye said. “Go out there and shut them down.”
The 15-yard penalty offered the Ducks’ offense a jumpstart that they ended up not needing but nonetheless appreciated. Oregon electrified Autzen Stadium early and often, throwing 266 yards in the air and adding 311 on the ground. The 52 points scored in the first half was the most by any FBS team this season.
Leading the way in the opening half onslaught was Royce Freeman. Playing in his last game at Autzen, Freeman was given the ball a lot early in the game and punched in a 2-yard touchdown run to put the Ducks up 10-0 just minutes later. Freeman finished with 142 yards and his two scores put him first in Pac-12 history in rushing touchdowns — sixth among NCAA career rushing leaders and 10th among NCAA career rushing touchdown leaders.
“Royce is a really special player,” quarterback Justin Herbert said. “I told him earlier today, ‘I was a big fan of you before I came here, but even a bigger fan now.’”
Herbert completed just 13 passes on the night in 23 attempts but made them count, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns. A 29-yard dart from Herbert to Dillon Mitchell in the back of the end zone highlighted what had been missing when he was out with a broken collarbone.
He didn’t finish the game, as both freshman Braxton Burmeister and senior Taylor Alie earned snaps.
“Justin, he’s our franchise quarterback,” head coach Willie Taggart said. “Not just to our offense, but to our entire football team.”
At first glance, the scoreboard might read into it being all offense, but three turnovers forced from the Ducks’ defense complemented what Herbert and company were able to do on the offensive end.
“It was Oregon. You know Oregon did what Oregon came to do, and they were successful at it,” Oregon State interim head coach Cory Hall said.
The Beavers were anything but in control on Saturday. Following a 53-yard touchdown completion to Mitchell to make it 52-7, Oregon State coaches had to break up Beavers’ players involved in a scuffle on the sidelines. In the aftermath, the Ducks added 14 points in the second half on its way to a 59-point win.
Since taking over as head coach, Taggart has grown to understand the pain felt from the 2016 Civil War loss. While there’s no shortage of things to improve moving forward, dealing with a second consecutive loss to the Beavers won’t be on the list.
“I definitely didn’t want to be that coach that goes to offseason with a loss to the school up north,” Taggart said. “Didn’t want to be that guy.”
Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @ckundich