Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock was the most recognizable face in the sea of NFL personnel that flooded Autzen Stadium.
Justin Herbert, the former Sheldon High standout and projected first-round pick, played well under the Friday night lights.
But Oregon’s defense was the star of the talent show as the 13th-ranked Ducks smothered Colorado, 45-3.
First-year defensive coordinator Andy Avalos’ dominant unit has:
• Held five consecutive opponents to single digits scoring for the first time since 1958. Len Casanova’s Webfoots were only 2-3 during their streak, which included losing to Washington (6-0), beating Stanford (12-0), losing to UCLA (7-3), beating Oregon State (20-0) and losing to Miami (2-0).
• Allowed one touchdown in the opponents’ last 63 drives, including 33 consecutive second-half drives without allowing a touchdown.
• Allowed one touchdown in 38 first-half drives this season with no touchdowns given up in the second quarter.
• Forced 11 three-and-outs in last two games while giving up a total of 10 points.
• Had nine different players with at least one interception with safety Verone McKinley (two), safety Nick Pickett and linebacker Bryson Young each getting their first picks of the season off Steven Montez.
• Given up an average of 5.0 points per game since the 27-21 loss to Auburn in the opener.
“They pretty much do what they do and they do it well,” Colorado coach Mel Tucker, a former SEC and NFL defensive coordinator, said of the Ducks. “That’s a really good football team with a lot of experience and a lot of talent. They’re very well coached and they play hard. Going into the game, I said ‘I like that team. I like the way they play.’
“They’re going to win a lot of football games. It’s one of the best teams in the country.”
The Ducks’ five-game winning streak is the program’s longest since Vernon Adams Jr. returned from injury to lead the team to six wins in a row to finish the 2015 regular season.
Herbert passed for 261 yards and two touchdowns against the Buffaloes’ battered secondary, extending the nation’s longest active streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 34.
The 6-foot-6 senior is completing 69.1% of his passes with 1,602 yards, 17 touchdowns and one interception halfway through the regular season.
Oregon’s offense, which averaged 4.4 plays of 20 yards or more through the first five games, had nine plays of over 20 yards against Colorado.
CJ Verdell had a season-long 70-yard run as part of his 14-carry, 171-yard performance. Travis Dye bounced back from a two-fumble game with a 54-yard carry. Cyrus Habibi-Likio ran for three touchdowns.
Mycah Pittman (39 yards), Jacob Breeland (24), Jaylon Redd (23) and Juwan Johnson (22) each had a reception of over 20 yards.
“(Herbert) really made it a point of emphasis this week to take his preparation to a different level, and those guys around him as well,” coach Mario Cristobal said of the notable increase in explosive plays. “We went over closing in on some really big plays, and we saw him in all different facets. We saw him in the run game, the pass game and some of the play-action stuff.
“It’s a trend we want to continue.”
The Ducks (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) were able to turn Montez’s first three interceptions into touchdowns to turn a game that was competitive for the first 29 minutes into a laugher.
Oregon has 13 interceptions in last 15 games and at least one interception in eight consecutive games, the program’s longest streak since 2012 (11).
“The defense played great. We got put in some really great spots and made the most of it,” Herbert said. “Every day (in practice) they’re tough. Fortunately, we’ve been able to go against them, and they’ve made us so much better.”
Colorado was averaging 34.6 points entering the game with wins over two ranked teams (Nebraska and Arizona State).
Oregon had more interceptions than points allowed and held the Buffaloes 148 yards under their average of 447.
Before the 27-21 loss to Auburn on Aug. 31, safety Brady Breeze believed the 2019 Ducks’ defense was good enough to earn a nickname.
Despite allowing Bo Nix’s game-winning touchdown pass with nine seconds left, Oregon’s defense is having a historic season.
Perhaps the “Gang Green II” moniker Breeze was hoping for, an ode to the 1994 Rose Bowl defense, can still be applied if the Ducks' dominance continues next Saturday at Washington en route to a Pac-12 championship run.
“The guy is a genius. It’s cool,” Breeze said of Avalos. “Just the way we practice, you can tell this is way different than the past defenses that we had. It will be a deep ball all the way across the field, and this is in the middle of practice going against the scout team, and the defensive line is running to track down that receiver.
“The mentality that we’ve kind of created with the culture and stuff is way different than it’s ever been. Guys are really buying in and having fun and running all over the place.”
Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email podcast mailbag questions to email@example.com. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.