- Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer
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EUGENE, Ore. -- No. 3 Oregon started slow but finished fast in rolling No. 12 UCLA 42-14 at Autzen Stadium on Saturday night, keeping alive its BCS National Championship hopes.
But was it impressive enough for the Ducks to jump No. 2 Florida State in the BCS standings that will be released on Sunday night?
After the score was tied at 14 at the half, the Ducks scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to pull away and beat UCLA for the fifth consecutive time. Quarterback Marcus Mariota, a Heisman Trophy candidate, wasn’t particularly sharp early, but completed 21 of 28 passes for 230 yards with one touchdown.
Turning point: After Oregon went ahead 21-14 on Byron Marshall’s 11-yard touchdown run with 2:57 to go in the third, its defense put the nail in UCLA’s chances of winning. With the Bruins facing third-and-20 at the 50 on the first play of the fourth quarter, free safety Avery Patterson intercepted Brett Hundley’s pass down the right sideline. Patterson returned the interception 34 yards to the UCLA 38, setting up Mariota’s eight-yard touchdown pass to Bralon Addison that made it 28-14 with 12:41 to play.
Player of the game: Oregon fans were giddy about the return of junior tailback De'Anthony Thomas, who was sidelined the past four games with an ankle injury. But Marshall, a sophomore from San Jose, Calif., might be difficult to push out of the Ducks’ backfield. The former backup has run for 100 yards in each of the past five games, including 133 on 19 carries with three touchdowns against UCLA. Thomas gained 31 yards on 10 carries with one touchdown in his return, while catching three passes for 17 yards.
Call of the game: With Oregon trailing the Bruins 7-0 midway through the first quarter, the Ducks faced fourth-and-14 at their 26-yard line. Coach Mark Helfrich rolled the dice and called for a fake punt. After the Ducks split the Bruins out wide, sophomore middle linebacker Rodney Hardrick took a direct snap and ran 66 yards down the left sideline to the UCLA 8. Thomas scored on a one-yard run two plays later to tie the score at 7.
Stat that matters: 64 -- passing yards for Hundley, who was considered a Heisman Trophy candidate until last week. Playing behind an offensive line that had been revamped because of myriad injuries, Hundley completed 13 of 19 passes with one touchdown and two interceptions. He passed for more than 200 yards in each of his first five starts until he was limited to 192 in a 24-10 loss at Stanford last week. Hundley was more effective running the ball against the Ducks, gaining 72 yards on 15 carries with one touchdown.
What’s next: The Ducks get a week off before their Nov. 7 showdown at No. 6 Stanford. The Cardinal knocked the Ducks out of the BCS National Championship last season, upsetting then-No. 2 Oregon 17-14 at Autzen Stadium. Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson hit a 37-yarder in overtime to end a two-game losing streak to Oregon. The Bruins will try to end a two-game losing streak when they host Colorado at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
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