What we learned from the Ducks’ win on Saturday:
Thomas’ impact: RB De’Anthony Thomas’ has clearly been surpassed by Byron Marshall -- and to a lesser degree Thomas Tyner -- on the depth chart at running back. Since returning from an ankle sprain that sidelined him for four games, Thomas hasn’t shown the same explosiveness in the running game. But on special teams? Different story. Thomas changed the game with his 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It will be interesting to see how his role evolves the rest of the way.
Rose Bowl or bust: If Oregon players spent Sunday writing thank you cards to USC, would anyone blame them? The Ducks are again on top of the Pac-12 North and are now the favorites to head to the Rose Bowl thanks to USC’s win over Stanford. It’s the first week all year where Oregon seems destined for Pasadena on Jan. 1. Before losing to Stanford, the Ducks figured to be headed there a week later for the national championship.
Mariota needs rest: It’s obvious Marcus Mariota isn’t at full strength and while the Ducks are still good enough to beat most teams with their star quarterback hobbled, their offense is missing what he does as a runner. Mariota’s stat line read very un-Mariota-like: four carries for minus-18 yards.