Oregon running back CJ Verdell sprinted across the field at rainy Levi's Stadium leaving a sprinkle of brown mud flipping from his white Nike cleats.
After barreling into the end zone for three scores in Oregon's upset victory over No. 5 Utah, Verdell was dashing to the stage, where his teammates awaited, dancing with confetti, alongside the Duck mascot and second year head coach Mario Cristobal.
The sophomore grabbed a ‘Pac-12 Champions' adorned hat and t-shirt before presented with the Most Valuable Player trophy.
The Ducks won their first Pac-12 Championship since 2014, earning the conference's automatic berth to the Rose Bowl, by beating Utah 37-15. They snapped Utah's eight-game winning streak and ended the Utes' College Football Playoff dream.
Quite frankly, I think maybe these guys all week long got a little bit tired of hearing we weren't the more physical team. It gives you a little bit of an edge. --Cristobal
Against the nation's No. 1 rushing defense, Verdell made history. The Utes entered the game allowing an average of 56.3 yards per game, with only one team to rush for over 100 yards. Verdell doubled that amount, alone, with 208 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown that was the longest run in Pac-12 title game history.
How did Verdell feel about being in Utah's shadow, leading up to the game?
Definitely put a little chip on our shoulders. We try not to focus on the outside noise too much. Hearing they're the most physical team in the Pac-12 made us want to come out here and work even more harder. --Verdell
The clutch performance sent Verdell over the edge to surpass 1,000 rushing yards for the second-consecutive season, becoming the fifth Oregon running back to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back years and the third to do it as a freshman and sophomore.
Verdell gave all credit to his offensive line.
I couldn't have done anything on that field without the O-line, They made the holes, paved the way for me to give the big runs. I got to give it all up to them. --Verdell
In Oregon's most complete game of the season, the Ducks won the battle in the trenches, the defense held Utah scoreless in the first half and quarterback Justin Herbert showed off his mobility. Afterwards, Verdell and the Ducks celebrated in the locker room smelling of mud, sweat and a slight hint of roses.
CJ Verdell makes Pac-12 Championship history and smells like roses originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest