With a new quarterback at the helm and the starting running back serving a suspension, the University of Oregon football team steamrolled New Mexico in the 2010 season opener for both teams on Saturday, September 4.
The 11th-ranked Ducks pitched a 72-0 shutout, racking up a school-record 720 yards and tying the Oregon record for most points in a game at Autzen Stadium.
The performance went a long way toward burying the progam’s miserable and embarrassing offseason, which included players running afoul of the law in the months following their Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State.
Starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was ultimately kicked off the team after two separate incidents and relocated to Ole Miss, and starting running back LaMichael James was suspended one game after he was arrested on domestic violence charges in February. James ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge in March, and missed the Ducks’ opener while serving a suspension doled out by Or coach Chip Kelly.
The Ducks didn’t need him on this day.
Kenjon Barner, like James a redshirt sophomore, tied a school record with five touchdowns and accounted for 223 total yards, all in less than two full quarters of play.
Barner rushed for 147 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries, caught one pass for a 60-yard touchdown, and returned one punt and one kickoff for nine yards each.
Barner’s fifth touchdown of the day gave the Ducks a 42-0 lead … with 8:51 left in the opening half. He started off the scoring on a one-yard run, then tacked on scoring runs of 25 and 10 yards in the first quarter, and gave the Ducks a 35-0 lead with a 41-yard run early in the second quarter.
Cliff Harris returned two punts for touchdowns later in the second quarter, a 61-yarder at 6:51 for a 49-0 lead, and a 64-yarder with 15 seconds left in the half that gave the Ducks a 59-0 halftime advantage.
The scoring romp slowed considerably in the second half, with Eric Solis kicking two third-quarter field goals and third-string quarterback Daryle Hawkins running in a touchdown from seven yards out with 6:36 left in the game.
Hawkins was taking snaps after both starter Darron Thomas and backup Nate Costa had come and gone, but with the score already at a ridiculous level, he didn’t attempt a pass.
Thomas did, going 13-for-23 for 220 yards and two touchdowns – including a 30-yard scoring toss to tight end David Paulson and the 60-yard pass play to Barner – in his first game as Oregon starter. Thomas strung together a solid performance despite throwing an interception on the Ducks’ first offensive series, recovering nicely and showing the type of composure he’ll need for Oregon to win at Tennessee on September 11.
Oregon-New Mexico Box Score, ESPN.com