STANFORD, Calif. — The streak is over.
No. 16 Oregon ended its painful three-game losing skid to Stanford with a 21-6 victory on Saturday at Stanford Stadium.
Here are five takeaways from the Pac-12 opener as the Ducks enter their first bye week 3-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play:
1. Andy Avalos appears to be a home run hire
The Ducks have not allowed a touchdown in the first half of any of their four games this season and have not allowed any touchdowns since Auburn’s game-winning score with nine seconds remaining in the opener.
That’s 180 minutes and 9 seconds of action without an opponent celebrating in the end zone.
“I think as a team and as a defense, we're just chasing our standard,” said senior defensive tackle Drayton Carlberg, who had one of Oregon’s five sacks. “That's every day. We know if we have a good Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, that the game's going to take care of itself.”
Avalos' unit is the first Oregon defense to go three consecutive games without allowing a touchdown since 1935.
2. Justin Herbert is in complete command of the offense
Despite the sacks and the list of injured receivers and the lack of a vintage Oregon running game, the 6-foot-6, 237-pound senior is living up to all of the NFL hype.
Herbert’s 14 touchdown passes are the most in the first four games of a season in Oregon history.
Oh, and QB1 hasn’t thrown an interception in 174 consecutive attempts dating back to the Arizona State game last year.
3. The Ducks’ secondary is scary good
Junior cornerback Thomas Graham, who was on crutches after suffering a lower-leg injury against Montana, had a career-high nine tackles and broke up two passes.
Sophomore safety Jevon Holland had a career-high eight tackles and intercepted K.J. Costello in the fourth quarter to set up Oregon’s back-breaking touchdown drive.
Costello, who passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns during Stanford’s stunning 38-31 overtime win last season at Autzen Stadium, was held to 120 yards through the air on Saturday.
4. Brenden Schooler may play before Juwan Johnson
Coach Mario Cristobal has been describing Johnson’s status as “day to day” for a month now as the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Penn State graduate transfer deals with a calf injury.
Schooler was on the field running like a deer in pregame warmups about six weeks after undergoing foot surgery.
In the meantime, Herbert continues to lean on Jacob Breeland as his go-to receiver. The senior tight end was spectacular again in the passing game with five receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
5. The Auburn loss looks better (or worse?)
The 27-21 loss to Auburn remains painful for Oregon, especially considering Cristobal’s team squandered several opportunities to put the marquee nonconference matchup away at AT&T Stadium.
But the Tigers, who were up to No. 8 in this week’s Associated Press poll, appear to be a player again in the SEC after winning 28-20 at No. 17 Texas A&M on Saturday.
The Ducks (3-1, 1-0) will likely be the Pac-12’s highest-ranked team again Sunday after No. 10 Utah’s loss at USC.
“We have the DNA,” Cristobal said. “We’ve got to put it together and let actions speak louder than words.”