Facing a first-and-goal at the Oregon 1-yard line, Colorado was three feet away from making Friday night’s game a one-score contest. After a false start and holding penalty, Buffalo quarterback Steven Montez proceeded to force a pass that was tipped and intercepted by Oregon’s Verone McKinley III.
This proved to be a turning point after the Ducks marched down the field and added seven more points after Jaylon Redd punched in a 1-yard score to make the score 24-3.
“I just felt like I couldn't be denied,” Redd said.
After that, it was all Oregon.
A finally complete and, for the most part, healthy receiving corps showed up in dominating fashion. After an injury to one of Justin Herbert’s favorite targets, tight end Jacob Breeland, receivers Juwan Johnson, Mycah Pittman and Redd were forced to carry the load for Oregon. Redd made the most of the opportunity scoring three times for the Ducks, marking Redd’s fifth-straight game scoring a touchdown.
Although the passing game has been effective all season, the running game was a sore spot the Ducks aimed to perfect during practice this past week.
“Just being on the same page [with the offensive line],” said Cyrus Habibi-Likio, who had three touchdowns of his own. “It felt nice to have high numbers, and the run game was a big focus for us this week.”
With 252 rushing yards, the Ducks offensive line and backfield showed that they are a force to be reckoned with. Namely CJ Verdell, who needed just two-and-a-half quarters to reach 100 yards rushing, ending the game with a season-high 171 rushing yards. After two fumbles last week, Travis Dye did not receive a carry until late in the fourth quarter.
“It’s Cyrus turn,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. “He’s earned it. And he’s made the most of it.”
Meanwhile, the defense was, once again, in top form. Oregon's defense forced Montez into a world of hurt as he finished with a lowly 131 yards and career-high of four interceptions. Colorado is the most explosive offense Oregon has faced this season, and the Ducks knew it.
Prepping for Laviska Shenault Jr. and the rest of Colorado’s offense was something the Oregon secondary looked forward to. Their preparation paid off. The projected top-10 draft pick struggled to expose the Oregon secondary, finishing with just four catches.
Friday night was the first time Shenault Jr. took the field since leaving Colorado's game against Arizona State with an undisclosed injury almost three weeks ago.
Injuries also plagued the Oregon defense. During the second quarter, linebacker Troy Dye and safety Jevon Holland collided and both had to be helped off the field. Neither returned to the game, and Holland was spotted in a walking boot on his left foot.
Breeland, who is having a sensational senior season, will be assessed further after an injury to his lower leg late in the first quarter. He spent the entire second half on crutches.
Oregon has over a week to recover and adjust its game plan before they head to Seattle and take on the Washington Huskies in what will likely be a conference champion-deciding game.
Editor's note: This story was updated on Oct. 13 to correct grammatical errors.