Oregon rides turnovers to ‘win the day’ over Florida State
Doubters of the Oregon Ducks would be wise to change their minds after Thursday’s shellacking of the Florida State Seminoles in the first-ever College Football playoff semifinal game.
"Defense wins championships" might as well be the new motto of Oregon Duck football after forcing a previously undefeated Florida State team to turn over the ball five times in the 59-20 win at the Rose Bowl.
"(The) defense played incredible," Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota said after the game. "They practiced hard all week. Just a testament of what they’ve been able to do. Those guys have been doing it all year. They always kind of find ways to get to the ball."
Mariota isn’t wrong, either. The Ducks ranked third in the country in turnover differential (17) in the regular season, forcing 25 in 13 games.
Forcing the opposition into mistakes is one thing, but turning those mistakes into points is another thing entirely. Oregon left nothing to waste, scoring 28 second-half points off Florida State’s misfortune.
Mariota said after the game that it was the defense that provided the offense the "kind of steam that we needed to roll."
While Florida State has been known to come back late in games, the Seminoles only gave up 28-plus points six times in the 29-game win streak they carried leading up to this semifinal game.
The odds of Oregon’s defense putting on another show such as this one are very slim, but head coach Mark Helfrich says his team can keep up this torrid pace.
"We can win the same way," Helfrich said. "We’re good with it."
After years of failing to win the big game, the Ducks appear to be poised and ready to bring the first-ever College Football Playoff championship home to Eugene.