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The Louisiana State Tigers (1-0, 0-0 SEC) defeated the Oregon Ducks (0-1, 0-0 Pac-12) 40-27 Saturday night at the Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas, in front of a raucous crowd of 87,711.
The Tigers physically manhandled the Ducks on both sides of the ball. LSU rushed for 175 yards, with sophomore running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford rushing for 99 and 96 yards, respectively.
Oregon’s offense was also ineffective, turning the ball over four times which lead to 20 LSU points. The Ducks also committed 12 penalties for 95 yards, while LSU was penalized just five times for 47 yards.
The two squads swapped field goals to begin the contest, as each team struggled to find an offensive rhythm early on. A late first quarter LSU turnover was converted into another Oregon field goal to give the Ducks a slim 6-3 lead after one period.
Oregon’s defense immediately forced a three-and-out following the field goal, but Ducks’ punt returner Kenjon Barner foreshadowed the rest of the night by fumbling the kick. LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu scooped up the loose ball and scampered three yards for the score to give LSU a 9-6 lead. Tigers kicker Drew Alleman missed the point after.
Ducks’ quarterback Darron Thomas threw a pick on the next possession, but LSU was unable to muster any tangible threat with an immediate three-and-out to give the ball right back to Chip Kelley’s potent offense. Thomas directed a beautiful 19 play, 79-yard drive that chewed up 7:41 of the clock. Oregon RB LaMichael James rushed for 19 yards on the scoring drive, capping it off with a three yard plunge to give the Ducks a 13-9 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the half.
LSU countered however, marching 69 yards on 12 plays to recapture the advantage with just 44 seconds left in the second quarter. Spencer Ware rushed for 31 yards on the possession before Rueben Randle corralled a 10-yard Jarrett Lee pass to give LSU a 16-13 lead to end the half.
Both LSU and Oregon swapped punts to begin the third quarter and started to settle down. Oregon’s second possession of the half doomed the Ducks however, as De’Anthony Thomas fumbled at the Oregon 21 to give LSU a short field. The Tigers’ capitalized immediately, needing just five plays in 1:48 as Michael Ford scored on a five yard rush to give LSU a 23-13 lead. Ducks’ returner Thomas fumbled the subsequent kickoff back to LSU, giving the Tigers’ possession at the Oregon 41. Six plays later, Ware scored from the one to up LSU’s lead to 30-13.
Blessed with a three possession lead, the LSU defense was able to maintain it. Another Ducks’ three-and-out gave LSU the ball to start the fourth quarter. The Tigers once again converted on Oregon’s inefficiency, marching 33 yards on eight plays before Tigers’ kicker Drew Alleman boomed a 33-yard field goal to extend LSU’s lead to 33-13.
Darron Thomas cut the deficit to just 33-20 with an eight yard throw to Josh Huff to complete a 13-play drive that only claimed 4:53 of time. The Ducks’ defense provided a clutch three-and-out, but upon receiving possession, Thomas fired four consecutive incomplete passes to turn the ball over on downs at the Ducks’ 41. LSU scored five plays later on a 16 yard Ford touchdown for a 40-20 edge, but surrendered a 70-yard drive that culminated with a Thomas 4 yard run with 13 seconds left to provide the final 40-27 margin.
Oregon will look to even its record at 1-1 next week when they host Nevada, while LSU takes on Northwestern State in Death Valley.
In other big games, Alabama (1-0, 0-0 SEC) will travel to Happy Valley to battle Penn State (1-0, 0-0 Big 10), Georgia (0-1, 0-0 SEC) takes on South Carolina (1-0, 0-0 SEC) in an SEC tussle, and Notre Dame (0-1) will head to Michigan (1-0, 0-0 Big 10) to play the Wolverines in the first ever night game at Michigan Stadium.