EUGENE, Ore. - They take their track and field seriously here. Football, too. And there are autumn afternoons when there is no discernible difference in what occurs at Oregon's world-renowned Hayward Field and just across the Williamette River in Autzen Stadium.
Saturday quickly turned into that kind of day. No. 2 Oregon, built for speed, ran for 311 first-half yards, flashed to a 56-0 halftime lead and coasted to a 70-14 win against Colorado.
Oregon's 70 points were the school's most ever in a conference game and the most allowed by CU since losing 70-3 to Texas in the 2005 Big 12 Conference championship game.
The Buffaloes' staggering defensive collapse continues; in their last four Pac-12 Conference games they've allowed 2,115 yards and 213 points. Oregon's contribution to the yardage figure was 617 yards in total offense, including 425 on the ground.
Saturday's loss was the Buffs' fourth straight and dropped them to 1-7 overall, assuring the school of a record seventh consecutive losing football season. CU fell to 1-4 in the Pac-12, with its lone win coming five weeks ago at Washington State.
Second-year Buffs coach Jon Embree said he hadn't thought about the seven consecutive losing seasons, instead focusing on how to fix his defense: "It's just disappointing that we're not getting stops on that side and giving ourselves a chance. It just hasn't been what you expect from a Colorado defense. Trust me, I'm trying to figure that out."
Although the Buffs' halftime deficit Saturday matched the school record, set in 1980 against UCLA, they did show vital signs after intermission. With Nick Hirschman replacing Jordan Webb at quarterback, the Buffs drove 72 yards after receiving the second-half kickoff, scoring their first touchdown since the second quarter of the Arizona State game (Oct. 11) on a 1-yard run by freshman Christian Powell.
After a fumble recovery by CU defensive back Jered Bell on the next Oregon series, the 6-1, 235-pound Powell scored his second TD on a 20-yard run. He finished the afternoon with 121 yards on 20 carries and the pair of scores.
But by the time Powell had crossed the goal line for a second time, the Ducks (8-0, 5-0) already were in cruise control and were heading toward their eighth straight win. As they did last weekend at Southern California, the Buffs fell into a first-quarter pit - 19-3 against the Trojans - and never recovered.
But this weekend, it was worse. Oregon led 28-0 at the end of the first quarter and was well on its way to a halftime total offense output of 447 yards.
The Ducks' speed was evident from the first snap. They went 57 yards in five plays to take a 7-0 lead on Kenjon Barner' 1-yard run, then got the ball back when CU's Tony Jones fumbled the kickoff and set up Oregon at the Buffs' 17-yard line.
Three plays later, De'Anthony Thomas scored on a 9-yard sweep of left end (14-0) and the mauling was underway. Barner, who entered the game averaging 124 rushing yards, carried nine times in the first half for 104 yards and two TDs, while Thomas rushed five times for 97 and one score. With those totals, both were done for the day.
In Oregon's 45-2 rout of CU last season in Boulder, Barner rushed 10 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns - one a career-long 84-yarder. The Ducks led that one 29-0 after one quarter and 35-0 at the half.
Look for Thomas' TD punt return Saturday to be replayed ad infinitum here and elsewhere - try ESPN for starters. After letting Darragh O'Neill's punt take a backward bounce, Thomas scooped it up going to his right, reversed himself and made Buffs safety Ray Polk miss, cut toward the CU sideline and made Buffs linebacker Derrick Webb whiff, then turned on the speed and outran everyone else in a white jersey to the end zone.
Embree had said all week that the Ducks appeared even faster than last year, and Saturday confirmed it. "They're fast at every position . . . defense, offense, linebacker, receiver and it showed. They closed some holes offensively quicker and got around the ball. And obviously, what they did offensively . . . (Thomas) getting around the edge, then his punt return reminded me of Ben Kelly."
That remarkable run pushed the score to 42-0 with 11:06 remaining in the first half - and the only questions left unanswered were how many more times the Ducks would cross the goal line and if the Buffs would ever get there.
By the time the fourth quarter started, Oregon had its most points - 70 - in a conference game and led by a cool 56. And Ducks coach Chip Kelly couldn't be accused of piling on; he pulled Barner, Thomas, freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota and most of his super-skilled offensive players before halftime. Mariota's first-half work: 10-of-14 passes completed for 136 yards and two TDs.
Still, CU's second-teamers were no match for Oregon's. Backup Ducks QB Bryan Bennett, a sophomore, completed all four of his pass attempts for 56 yards and ran 10 times for 73 yards and three TDs. Third-team QB Dustin Haines replaced Bennett in the fourth quarter.
CU's Webb, starting for the eighth time, finished his afternoon completing seven of 11 passes for 31 yards. Under his direction, the Buffs' deepest first-half penetration was to the Ducks' 32-yard line. Under Hirschman, the Buffs got both TDs - although he faced the Ducks' second- and third-team defense and the game had long ago been tucked away in the win column for Oregon.
Sophomore Connor Wood spelled Hirschman for CU's final possession. Wood didn't attempt a pass, and Hirschman finished 7-of-16 for 64 yards. Embree said naming a starter for next week would be evaluated.
The Buffs' schedule remains rugged; they return to Folsom Field next Saturday to face their third straight Top 25 opponent - No. 19 Stanford. Kickoff is at noon (FX).
BUFF BITS: CU played without its best offensive lineman - junior left tackle David Bakhtiari, who made the trip but was held out with a knee injury. Starting in his place was senior Ryan Dannewitz, but O-line coach Steve Marshall also had sophomore left guard Alex Lewis move out and freshman Jeromy Irwin take his place . . . . On defense, starting freshman nosetackle Josh Tupou (ankle) did not make the trip. Opening in his place was junior Nate Bonsu. Also, freshman Yuri Wright started in place of freshman Kenneth Crawley at cornerback, and junior Terrel Smith opened at nickel instead of freshman Marques Mosley . . . . Before kickoff, Oregon honored former CU tight end Ed Reinhardt, who suffered a severe head injury in the 1984 Buffs-Ducks game here. CU head coach Jon Embree was a teammate. Reinhardt, accompanied on the trip by his father, Ed, Sr., was given a standing ovation by the Autzen Stadium crowd . . . . Saturday's attendance was announced as 57,521.