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Sunday Takeaway: Oregon Ducks Defense Showed Improvement Against Nebraska


Royce Freeman

Nebraska opened this season with wins over Fresno State and Wyoming and then celebrated the 350th consecutive Memorial Stadium sellout with the win over an OR team that leads the Pac-12 in wins since 1997 and has played in two of the last six national championship games.

The two-point conversion failed, and OR led 20-7. OR and Nebraska should bring an entertaining game this weekend and it’s interesting to see the Cornhuskers favored here in this matchup.

However, when Kelly went to the well, he had the personnel to pull it off. Kelly wanted to prove he was the smartest coach in the stadium – and he was. OR will win the line of scrimmage battle by getting off their blocks and filling the right gaps. Although they are sporting their usual offensive proficiency (eighth in FBS in total offense, tied for 14th in scoring offense), the Ducks are ranked 80th in scoring defense and 82nd in total defense despite playing a FCS opponent (UC Davis) and a struggling FBS squad (Virginia). However, Nebraska is expected to contend for the Big Ten West title on an annual basis and another losing record certainly wouldn’t sit well in Lincoln.

“Am I shocked that we lost?” He had considerably more resources behind him this time, a crowd almost twice the size of what he had in Corvallis. “We’ll find out quick what we have”, Washington coach Chris Petersen said.

It’s also obvious that this team has rallied around Armstrong, who battled through some nasty cramps in the game but kept coming back to make clutch plays. This is a brand new and young defense which needs all the help it can get. That takes guts. That’s how you win football games.

OR still had a 32-28 lead for most of the fourth quarter until it finally suffered a breakdown: Tommy Armstrong completed a 65-yard drive with a 34-yard touchdown run with 2:29 left. He had better luck Saturday on the Nebraska sideline. The Cornhuskers rushed for 228 yards and almost five yards per carry.

Pain or no, Armstrong may never forget how the final touchdown came about.

Riley called Nebraska-Oregon “a great game for our team”, and said he sees good nonconference games as being good for college football. The Ducks were penalized 13 times for 126 yards, and for the second straight week their defense wore down in the second half. Defensively, Nebraska football is yielding 290.5 yards in passing and 109.8 in rushing against the opposing teams. For the OR offense converting on big play opportunities is a key to defeating the opposing defense in Lincoln. On some of those plays, such “handsy” actions weren’t necessary, because the pass wasn’t accurate. “It was one of those deals where you didn’t necessarily like it, but you had to admire the work that was going on in that program”.

“Tyree is a long guy, more physical, and Arrion did a good job in a lot of ways”, Hoke said. “We’re 3-0 going into the Big Ten”, Riley said. “Obviously, the penalties killed us”. The Buffaloes did go down at MI, 45-28, but they have showed they’re not the pushovers they once were. Friday, the Ducks took to Snapchat to send a number of recruits a photo of what they’ll be wearing Saturday.