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To Every Last Man, Oregon Was Ready for a Fight with Florida State


PASADENA, Calif. — Credit to Jameis Winston for being a true believer.

The Florida State quarterback kept talking about trying to mount a comeback in a game that finished 59-20, a game that featured a 34-0 run thanks to four turnovers in four possessions.

He described the game as “unfortunate.”

“We were never stopped at all,” Winston said. He talked about Florida State beating itself.

Sure, that’s confidence. And what else should Winston be expected to say after a loss like that?

It’s also lunacy.

Oregon is good. Oregon is national championship good. Oregon is championship good down to every last man, it seems.

A message for the Ducks' championship foe Ohio State: Don’t believe Winston. Nothing about a 59-20 rout was a fluke or some series of lucky bounces or even one player getting a lucky on broken coverage.

Oregon set Rose Bowl records for total yards (639) and scoring. The Ducks scored the most points against a Florida State team since 1985 when Auburn’s Bo Jackson was the one doing the damage.

And put in greater context, what the Ducks did to Florida State was more staggering.

This was a game in which Marcus Mariota threw an interception, something that happened only twice all season. He nearly threw two picks with one pass bouncing out of the hands of Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey.

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Mariota wasn’t sharp early, but giving him a short field five times is begging for embarrassment. Oregon obliged Florida State's request.

Mariota completed 26-of-36 passes for 338 yards with two touchdowns all of it after his top deep threat left the game with a knee injury sustained on the opening kickoff.

Oregon's offense didn't sustain even a hiccup without Devon Allen.

A running back who didn’t play the last three games rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

A receiver who didn’t have a catch in four games this year caught seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

A tight end who caught four passes all year ended up catching six for 73 yards.

These sorts of things don’t happen by chance. They happen because Oregon has built a program with enough depth so that Thomas Tyner, Darren Carrington and Evan Baylis can contribute on the biggest stage on a moment's notice.

“Those guys did vital stuff without the ball, which was vital for our success,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. “We had to win on the perimeter both in the run game and bubble game and all that stuff goes into it.”

And then there were the turnovers. Two fumbles were clawed out of the hands of Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. Others came on pressure of Winston.

And again, Oregon had an built-in excuse if the Ducks had major lapses defensively. Starting cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was lost to a torn ACL during practice back in Eugene. No doubt, it was a blow from a personnel perspective and leadership perspective.

Without their best defensive player, the Ducks gained five turnovers, scoring 34 total points off takeaways. Oregon’s lone squandered opportunity off a turnover was a blocked extra point.

That’s dominance. Winning a game under less than ideal circumstances is the sort of thing national champions do. Oregon did it by 39 points.

“We were just ready for the fight,” linebacker Tony Washington said. “And we came out on top.”