SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The game was decided long before it ended, and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who had a hand in five touchdowns, was able to enjoy most of the fourth quarter from a relaxed sideline. The Ducks were rolling toward a victory in the Pacific-12 championship game, and Mariota would be named its most valuable player.
Oregon, No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, avenged its only loss this season by dismantling No. 7 Arizona, 51-13, at Levi’s Stadium on Friday night. The victory assuredly puts the Ducks (12-1) in one of the semifinal games under the new playoff system.
Several other contenders will conclude their regular seasons on Saturday, and the four semifinalists will be named on Sunday. Oregon, likely to be seeded first or second, is expected to play in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. The winner of that game will meet the winner of the Sugar Bowl in the national championship game in Arlington, Tex., on Jan. 12.
Between now and Oregon’s next game, Mariota will travel to New York as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, awarded to college football’s best player, on Dec. 15.
In little more than three quarters against Arizona, Mariota completed 25 of 38 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 33 yards and three more scores. His cool precision led an Oregon attack that relentlessly amassed 640 yards.
“If this guy isn’t what the Heisman Trophy is all about, then I’m in the wrong profession,” Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich said.