After beating Michigan State in arguably the most hyped game of the college football season, Oregon had a home game against – wait for it – Wyoming.
Wyoming? Yes, Wyoming.
Isn’t it difficult to get up for a game the week after an emotional win when the hype – not to mention the competition – isn’t as great?
“It’s not hard at all,” Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Coach (Mark) Helfrich always talks about (how) you have an opportunity every week to go out there and play the game that you love. For us, we had an opportunity again to go out there and play. It’s a lot of fun for us. Our fans are unbelievable. They came out for the early kickoff. It was loud and rowdy just like the week before. For us, it was just a lot of fun to go out there and play.”
Well, after the second quarter, anyway. Oregon actually trailed Wyoming 7-0 through one quarter before scoring touchdowns on six consecutive drives in a 48-14 win.
“We were able to execute our offense and win the game,” Mariota said.
That’s putting it mildly. Mariota finished 19-of-23 for 221 yards and two touchdowns and rushed five times for 71 yards. As a team, Oregon carried 37 times for 362 yards (7.1 yards per carry) and five scores.
Mariota even somersaulted into the end zone on a 19-yard touchdown run that gave Oregon a 20-7 lead. Helfrich was happy with the touchdown – and even happier that Mariota didn’t get hurt.
The Heisman Trophy hopeful sprained his left MCL last November.
“I can’t play with the mentality of (not getting hurt) because then it will happen,” Mariota said. “I just got to go out there with these guys and execute to the best of my abilities, just enjoy the game. At times last week (against Michigan State we) got a little too tensed up and we were worried about losing the game.”
Oregon actually trailed Michigan State, 27-18, more than halfway through the third quarter before reeling off 28 unanswered points in a 46-27 win.
Mariota was proud to represent the Pac-12 well, and he was happy UCLA did the same against Texas this past Saturday. The Bruins rallied on the road for a 20-17 win.
“Obviously you want to see the Pac-12 play well,” Mariota said. “You want to see all the Pac-12 teams do well against out-of-conference competition. You kind of tend to watch games and hope for the best for each of those teams. But for all of us, we can’t control those things. We just intend to focus on what we have to do and leave the rest up (to everybody else).”
Doug Gottlieb, however, isn’t buying it. Mariota rooting for UCLA? Seriously? Surely, he must at least hate Stanford, right?
“No, not at all,” Mariota said. “I mean, for us, it’s Pac-12 pride. It’s football. You win and lose some, but you don’t wish hatred upon anybody else. You just want to go out there and play your game. When you see other (Pac-12) teams do well (in out-of-conference games), that just shows how strong our conference is.”
And how weak the Big Ten is. The Big Ten, in fact, is 1-7 this year against Power Five schools.
Still, Mariota thought Michigan State was one of the best teams he’s seen.
“They’re a really good team,” he said. “Michigan State has an unbelievable front seven. They had a bunch of guys that will be playing on Sundays. Their back end was pretty good. Connor Cook and that offense, they’re pretty explosive. For us, they were a very tough team. I’m proud of the guys to be able to execute and get that win.”
Oregon will try to go for 4-0 this Saturday at Washington State. Kickoff is slated for 10:30 p.m. ET.