No. 5 Oregon easily handles Portland State 69-0By ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Writer Sep 18, 10:54 pm EDT
EUGENE, Ore. (AP)—LaMichael James was disappointed.
Even with a career-high 227 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns in No. 5 Oregon’s easy 69-0 defeat of Portland State, James thought his play lacked something. In fact, he dramatically—OK, maybe overly so—called it “the worst game I’ve ever played in my life.”
“I had a lot of yards, yeah, but I didn’t really play that well,” he said. “I take that on myself.”
Maybe it was because he wasn’t challenged from the start, when he ran untouched for 66 yards into the end zone. James went on to help Oregon amass 528 yards on the ground, surpassing the school record 465 set at Washington in 2007.
It was James’ first game with more than 200 yards, and he did it all before halftime. The Ducks (3-0) sat most of their starters after the first half to give the reserves some work before Oregon visits Arizona State to open Pac-10 play next weekend.
Darron Thomas completed nine of 18 passes for 140 yards and a career-best four scores in the victory, Oregon’s 11th straight at Autzen Stadium.
With a 72-0 rout of New Mexico in the opener, and a 48-13 victory over Tennessee last weekend, Oregon has outscored its opponents 189-13 in nonconference play. It is the first time the Ducks have had two shutouts in a season since 1964.
“The first team wanted to come out and put up some good points to let the second team go,” Thomas said. “We did a good job, we put some points on the board.”
The Vikings (2-1) of the FCS Big Sky Conference got as close as the Oregon 13 in the fourth quarter but the Ducks stopped them on fourth-and-1.
The Vikings also got close enough in the first half to give Zach Brown a 52-yard field goal attempt, but it went wide left in the miserably damp conditions.
“Sometimes they’ve got to learn lessons the hard way,” said Portland State first-year coach Nigel Burton.
Oregon is 4-0 all-time against the Vikings. With Saturday’s loss, Portland State falls to 0-10 against the Pac-10 after a season-opening loss to Arizona State.
The Vikings had no answer James, who had his 11th career game with at least 100 yards rushing.
James rushed for 1,546 yards last season to set a new Pac-10 freshman record. He was kept out of this season’s opener against New Mexico while he served a one-game suspension for offseason misconduct. James pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment charges after an altercation with his ex-girlfriend.
James returned last weekend in Oregon’s 48-13 victory at Tennessee, rushing for 134 yards and a score. In two games this season, he has gained 361 yards.
But yet he said he felt he lacked energy.
“I wasn’t the same guy that I was last week,” he said. “I got to fix that.”
Fellow sophomore Thomas also continued his development after taking over as Oregon’s starter this season. Thomas and fifth-year senior Nate Costa competed for the job in fall camp after last season’ starter, Jeremiah Masoli, was dismissed in the offseason.
Thomas has shown he can scramble in coach Chip Kelly’s spread offense, and some have even compared him to former Duck Dennis Dixon. Against the Vikings he gained 50 yards.
Conner Kavanaugh completed 8 of 21 passes for 18 yards in the Vikings’ new pistol offense, where the running back lines up behind the quarterback. Portland State had just 140 yards total offense compared to Oregon’s 668.
Burton took over this season at Portland State from Jerry Glanville, who was popular with players and fans alike but largely unable to help his team win. Portland State went 9-24 in three seasons under the gregarious former NFL coach.
The Vikings are 2-27 against Football Bowl Subdivision teams, defeating New Mexico 17-6 in 2006 and Hawaii 45-20 in 2000.
Burton said he wasn’t quite sure to feel about the loss.
“Ask me about it in 24 hours, because that’s something I never expected to see, that scoreboard,” he said.
Oregon reported that three players left the game with muscle strains: backup running back Kenjon Barner, tight end David Paulson and left tackle Darrion Weems. The Ducks were not specific about the injuries to the three starters, but it did not appear that any were serious.