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The Oregon Ducks gave their fans quite a scare in Week 1, narrowly defeating the Fresno State Bulldogs by a score of 31-24.
At the time it spurned conversations about Anthony Brown’s long term security under center, and questions about Oregon’s play-calling on offense and their chances of staying atop the Pac-12 – especially after UCLA dismantled LSU that same week.
How the tables have turned.
Oregon followed their Week 1 win with a huge victory over Ohio State in Week 2, and took care of business against Stony Brook on Saturday to move to 3-0 on the year.
Meanwhile, Fresno State and their gutsy star quarterback, Jake Haener, have proven they are far more than just a pretty good small conference team. The Bulldogs were 2-1 heading into their matchup with Chip Kelly’s UCLA squad on Saturday, and they battled significant adversity to earn a 40-37 win over the Bruins.
Haener, the former Washington quarterback, pushed through a significant hip injury to lead his team on a six-play, 75-yard drive in the final minute to give them a lead with 14 seconds remaining, which they would hold onto.
It was an extraordinary performance from Haener, who threw for 455 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
“We know he’s tough, right. We’ve seen that over the course of last year and this year. He’s tough,” Fresno State coach Kalen DeBoer said. “When the pressure was great, he was at his best and that’s what’s awesome.”
UCLA dropped to No. 24 in the Coaches Poll following the loss, while Fresno State snuck in at No. 25.
It was known at the time of Oregon’s win that Fresno State was a good football team, and Haener had some respect on his name, but the Bulldogs’ win over UCLA and continued success this season will only help put Oregon’s win in a better light as the year goes on.
The Ducks remain in control of their own destiny when it comes to winning a Pac-12 title, but as usual they will need all the help they can get to get the committee’s attention for a CFB playoff berth.
If this Fresno State squad can run the table in the Mountain West and remain in the Top 25, it will help Oregon’s case in a big way by being a prominent win to point to in their non-conference slate.