There were a lot of happy faces inside the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex on Saturday night.
Everybody loves cupcakes.
No. 24 Oregon devoured Bowling Green 58-24 to get coach Mario Cristobal’s first season as head coach off on the right foot.
Justin Herbert completed only 10 passes, but five of them were for touchdowns.
Johnny Johnson and Jaylen Redd dropped perfectly-placed deep balls on the Ducks’ first drive, but the three receptions the sophomore wide receivers held on to went for touchdowns.
Tony Brooks-James touched the football only eight times, but the versatile senior running back finished with 140 all-purpose yards.
Jim Leavitt’s defense had some issues communicating, substituting and tackling early on, but by the end of the night still had seven tackles for loss, three sacks and three turnovers that led to 21 points.
“We’ll take the 1-0 part, we’ll take the 58 points, but we know we can do better,” Cristobal said. “Our guys are really enthused in the locker room about getting right back after it and getting to work and seeing how far we can go.”
The Ducks (1-0) will be undefeated entering Pac-12 play barring one of the greatest upsets in college football history.
The Falcons, picked by to finish fifth in the East Division in the preseason Mid-American Conference media poll, would likely dominate Oregon’s next two opponents.
Up next for Cristobal and Co. is Portland State, an FCS team that extended its losing streak to 14 games after a 72-19 loss at Nevada
The Ducks then host San Jose State, which opened the season with a home loss to UC Davis, on Sept. 15 in the final nonconference game. The Spartans gave up 589 yards of offense to the FCS Aggies.
Oregon trailed 10-0 after a sluggish start before scoring 37 unanswered points against Bowling Green.
“I think we did some good things and also some bad things,” said Herbert, who passed for 281 yards and accounted for six total touchdowns but threw two late interceptions. “There’s definitely some stuff we can clean up. I thought it was a good effort by our guys.”
One of the points of emphasis during fall camp was reducing penalties.
Oregon was the most-flagged team (130th) in the FBS last season, averaging 9.3 penalties for 88.3 yards per game under Willie Taggart.
The Ducks were called for three penalties totaling 35 yards in the opener. Two of the flags came late in the game — a roughing the kicker call and a pass-interference call.
“We could have walked out of the stadium with one penalty,” Cristobal relented. “We were right on the cusp of it, which would have been good.”
Cristobal said he was pleased with the way his veteran offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. The defensive line was equally impressive with starters Jalen Jelks, Jordon Scott and Austin Faoliu combining for 22 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
Herbert passed the 4,000 career passing yards mark in his 18th game (16 starts) for the Ducks. Marcus Mariota reached the same milestone in his 18th appearance, and Joe Harrington did the same in his 16th start.
Cristobal will continue to lean on his star quarterback to keep Oregon focused leading into the Sept. 22 conference opener against Stanford.
“The most important role a player can have is to be coachable,” Cristobal said. “Just because (Herbert) has been such a great player for a while now, doesn’t change that. He has been exceptional as it relates to that.”