Herbert has 6 TDs in Oregon’s 58-24 win over Bowling Green
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert completed just 10 passes, but five of them were for touchdowns against Bowling Green.
“I like that ratio,” Ducks coach Mario Cristobal said. “Let’s keep that going.”
Herbert ran for another score to finish with six touchdowns to lead No. 24 Oregon to a 58-24 victory on Saturday night. He finished 10 of 21 for 281 yards and the five passing TDs were the most for a Duck in a season-opening game.
The victory extended Oregon’s winning streak in home openers to 14 straight.
Herbert said afterward there was room for improvement.
“I think at times we moved the ball really well. At times things were clicking and the defense was playing really good defense, and we kind of feed off each other. For a short moment there, we were playing really good football,” Herbert said. “If we could stretch that out for a complete game I think we could be a really good team.”
Bowling Green, which went 2-10 last season, jumped in front 10-0 in the first quarter, but the Ducks scored 37 unanswered points until the Falcons scored again just before the halftime to make it 37-17.
Bowling Green quarterback Jarret Doege threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Scott Miller had 166 receiving yards and two touchdowns and Andrew Clair ran for 113 yards.
“They did most of what we thought they were going to do,” Doege said. “We just had to execute a little better. We had some missed assignments and a couple of turnovers that we need to clean up, but mostly they did what we thought they were going to do.”
The win kicked off Cristobal’s first season as head coach of Oregon. Cristobal was promoted when Willie Taggart left after a single season to become head coach at Florida State. The Ducks went 7-6 last year.
Following a 36-yard field goal from Nate Needham, Bowling Green stretched its early margin on Doege’s 6-yard pass to Miller. Doege started the Falcons’ final four games last season as a freshman and the team averaged 35 points.
But The Ducks answered on the ensuing drive with Herbert’s 33-yard pass to Jaylon Redd in the end zone before pulling in front with Herbert’s 9-yard scoring pass to Dylan Mitchell. Herbert added a 2-yard keeper to put the Ducks up 21-10.
Herbert missed five games last season with a fractured collarbone and the Ducks went 1-4 over that span. This season he’s being mentioned as an early Heisman Trophy candidate.
Herbert hit Johnny Johnson with a 40-yard TD before a bad snap on a Bowling Green punt led to a safety and Cyrus Haabibi-Likio scored on a 5-yard run.
With six seconds left to halftime, Doege found Clair with a 9-yard scoring pass for a 20-point lead at the break.
Ugo Amadi had a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown to open the second half for the Ducks. Herbert added an 83-yard TD pass to Taj Griffin before he left the game and Braxton Burmeister took over.
Doege’s second scoring pass to Miller was for 63 yards with just under three minutes to play in the third. Herbert returned before the end of the quarter and connected with Redd for a 48-yard TD midway through the fourth before leaving the game for good.
Cristobal said he wanted to get Burmeister some work with the first team but decided to bring back Herbert.
“When we didn’t move the ball and they scored we thought we wanted to get back on track,” he said.
Herbert was intercepted twice. He has just seven interceptions in his Oregon career.
Bowling Green: Bowling Green hasn’t won an opener since beating Tulsa 34-7 to kick off the 2013 season, and it hasn’t won an opener on the road since it bested Idaho 32-15 in 2011. The team’s last win over a Power 5 opponent came in 2015 against Purdue, while its last win over a ranked opponent was against No. 16 NIU in the 2013 MAC championship game.
Oregon: Oregon has scored at least 40 points in all of its 13 home-opening victories except one: In 2009 they beat Purdue 38-36. ... Herbert surpassed the Oregon record for most TD passes in a season opener held by Akili Smith (1998) and Danny O’Neill (1994). ... Cristobal said tight ends Cam McCormick has a leg injury that could be “significant” but the team is awaiting X-rays. ... Herbert surpassed 4,000 career passing yards. ... He rushed for 41 yards.
UNDAUNTED: Doege said that the tough game against the Ducks could pay dividends later.
“We were over on the sidelines with the O-linemen. I thought we moved the ball really well and we were just talking to each other and said ‘We’re going to be fine this year. We’re going to go on to the next game and fix our mistakes,’” the sophomore quarterback said.
Former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota’s Motiv8 Foundation sent a group of about 400 kids from the Eugene Boys & Girls Club to the game. The Heisman Trophy winner also partnered with the Ducks to raise funds for those impacted by Hurricane Lane in Hawaii.
Bowling Green: The Falcons host Maryland next Saturday.
Oregon: The Ducks stay home to face Portland State next Saturday.