BY JIMMY DeROGATIS
The Oregon Ducks ground out a 7-6 win over Michigan State to take the Redbox Bowl College Football game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara Monday afternoon.
Before the game, Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio said, “We need to have production. There’s no question that to win football games, you need to score points.”
Unfortunately, neither offense produced. The first half was scoreless, and the second half wasn’t much different as Oregon QB Justin Herbert threw a 28 yard pass to Dillion Mitchell early in the final quarter for the only touchdown of the game. The score proved to be all Oregon (9-4) needed to overtake the two third quarter field goals produced by Spartans kicker Matt Coghlin.
The game started off very slow with little ball movement by either offense, just a lot of bubble screens and quarterback keepers. Spartans Jr. Quarterback Brian Lewerke seemed to have his timing off with his receivers. In the early going he was missing open receivers by under or overthrowing his intended target.
In a Bowl Game where passing yardage and points all together were hard to come by, the tone and feel of the game in the early going was a battle of neither offense being able to move the ball down field for a substantial drive.
Ducks star wide out Dillon Mitchell didn’t seem to be his normal self during the early stages of the game. Mitchell dropped two crucial passes, one in the endzone which went right through his hands for a sure touchdown, and the other a little dink and dunk pass on the sidelines that bounced off his fingertips. But he would make up for that with a beautiful route and catch for his 10th touchdown of the season, earning him the Offensive MVP Award.
Oregon would be able to hold that one-point lead and fend off the Spartans (7-6) offense with some great defensive play.
After the game, Oregon’s senior safety Ugochukwu Amadi was seen in excruciating pain trying to walk off the field. Asked if the win was bittersweet, finding out his leg was broken, he replied “Not at all. I left it all out on that field, and so did my teammates. That’s how we got it done tonight, even if it costs me an arm and a leg.”
Outside of the Michigan State locker room Defensive Tackle Raequan Williams looked shocked, beside himself, and very down. When asked about his teams play this evening Williams brushed it off saying, “I know who we are, we know who we are, we control upfront and they just had our number today. I know what kind of team we have back in East Lansing and we are better than what we displayed in the second half.”
Oregon seems to be a team of the future and will return 10 of 11 starters on offense, with break out receiver Dillon Mitchell undecided if he will enter this year’s NFL Draft. The Ducks are also returning eight of 11 starters on defense.
GAME NOTES: The game produced one record of note for the 17 year old Bowl game. The number of punts. There was a total of 18, 11 by Oregon and 7 by Michigan State.