By Anne M. Peterson
EUGENE, Ore. — With a romp over Nevada, No. 16 Oregon got back on track.
Justin Herbert threw for 310 yards and five touchdowns before heading to the sideline in the third quarter, and the Ducks rebounded from their season-opening loss to Auburn with a 77-6 rout Saturday night.
The Ducks (1-1) have won 15 straight home openers and 24 straight over nonconference foes at Autzen Stadium. Oregon tied a school record with seven touchdown passes — caught by seven receivers. The Ducks also tied their record for points at Autzen.
“Huge step in the right direction,” Herbert said afterward. “Tough loss last week but we came back and had a great week of practice and we were fired up to be here, and glad to get back at it tomorrow.”
Tight end Jacob Breeland caught four passes for a career-high 112 yards and a score. A total of 11 Ducks scored.
True freshman Brandon Talton kicked a pair of first-half field goals for Nevada (1-1). The Wolf Pack were coming off a 34-31 victory over Purdue last week, just their second win over a Big Ten program.
Redshirt freshman Carson Strong, who threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns in his debut, threw for 89 against the Ducks and was intercepted twice. He was sacked three times.
“It wasn’t really about what they were doing, it was about us. It all starts with us. There were guys that were open down the field and I’ve got to be able to see them and be able to get them the ball,” Strong said. “I missed a lot of plays. I left a lot of plays on the field tonight.”
The Ducks were coming off a 27-21 loss to Auburn in the team’s high-profile season opener in Texas. Bo Nix threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Seth Williams with 9 seconds remaining to give the Tigers the victory. Herbert finished with 242 yards passing a touchdown.
“Tonight it was more of the Oregon Football that we’ve been trying to establish,” coach Mario Cristobal said. “Being a disciplined football player and playing with relentless effort as a competitor, that’s what we’re trying to get to and we moved closer to that tonight.”
Talton’s 24-yard field goal gave Nevada the early lead midway through the opening quarter. Talton, a walk-on, kicked a 56-yard field goal as time ran out for the victory over Purdue, earning the game ball and a scholarship.
Herbert hit Breeland with a 66-yard scoring pass on the ensuing drive to put the Ducks in front. Herbert has thrown a touchdown pass in 30 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation.
But the senior quarterback has had to deal with a depleted receiver corps because of injuries heading into the season. Graduate transfer Juwan Johnson, a projected starter, was on the sidelines for the second straight game with an unspecified injury.
Talton added a 45-yard field goal for the Wolf Pack before CJ Verdell muscled his way into the end zone from 2 yards out to give the Oregon a 14-6 lead. After Sampson Niu intercepted Strong, Oregon scored two plays later on Herbert’s 16-yard pass to Ryan Bay.
The game further slipped away from Nevada when Oregon took over on the Wolf Pack 7 after a muffed punt, and Herbert found tackle Brady Aiello with a 1-yard scoring pass to make it 28-6.
“The turnovers, I mean we mishandled the punt, we had a bad snap there. We had turnovers in the second quarter. And then the big plays,” Nevada coach Jay Norvell said. “You can’t pile on those types of mistakes one on top of the other and expect to have a proper outcome, it’s just not gonna happen.”
The Ducks lead the series 7-1. The Wolf Pack’s only victory came in the first meeting between the two teams in 1947