The effort was much better than last week at Stanford, but the results were the same. Oregon could not sustain momentum from a late TD right before halftime, and was outscored 17-0 in the second half in losing 31-14 to UCLA at the Rose Bowl. It is the third consecutive loss for the Ducks, whose record drops to 4-4, and 1-4 in conference play.
Here’s what we learned from the game Saturday:
All Hail, Royce Freeman
Somewhat overshadowed by the Ducks loss, was the fact that Oregon has a new rushing king. What seemed like it would be an inevitable after an incredible freshman season came to fruition Saturday as Royce Freeman broke the Ducks’ all-time rushing record, passing LaMichael James. Freeman was a beast all day, despite UCLA continuing to key on him on every drive, pounding out 160 yards on 29 carries. Freeman has been a warrior for his entire career, and win or lose, Ducks fans should take time to appreciate what a great player he’s been for Oregon.
Braxton Burmeister looked better, but team still needs Justin Herbert
The stats won’t reflect it, but Braxton Burmeister looked much more comfortable in this game than he did on the road at Stanford last week. He was 8-for-15 for 74 yards and an interception. But what’s lost in the stats was Burmeister snapping several good throws for first downs in the game. His interception came on a long pass the Dillon Mitchell could have come down with, but the defender ripped it away. There was also another long Mitchell reception that was overturned as it was deemed the ball hit the ground. But while he looked better, this team is still way too predictable with no real passing threat and desperately needs Herbert to come back healthy soon.
If the Ducks get behind, it’ll be tough for them to come back
This is pretty obvious, but when teams force Burmeister to try and make plays, the Ducks struggle. If Oregon gets down early in it next few games, it will be very difficult for them to mount a comeback. Burmeister still was way to unwilling to stick in the pocket and try to go through his reads to find the open man. He gets anxious and bails out too quickly, scrambling to pick up minimal yardage. For Oregon to be successful moving forward, they’ll need him to minimize mistakes, tighten up on defense, and rely on the ground game to get them a lead.