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Marcus Mariota throws pick, but still nearly perfect in win vs. Cal

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Playing at the home of the San Francisco 49ers, Oregon made Levi's Stadium sound like Autzen South.

It looked like it by the end of the game, too, with just a handful of green-clad faithful in the stands cheering on their Ducks in a 59-41 blowout of California late on Friday night.

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Heisman Trophy front-runner Marcus Mariota played as well as one would expect given the Bears' defensive rankings but threw his first interception of the season in what was otherwise a stellar performance. The pick, off a deflection and into the hands of Stefan McClure, ended a streak of 245 attempts without such a mistake. That's good enough for second all-time in the Pac-12 behind the quarterback's record mark he set last season.

Mariota might beat himself up over that throw when watching film, but it was yet another game in which he continued to rewrite the record books. It didn't take long for him to move past Bill Musgrave and become the school's all-time leading passer early in the first half, and he tossed a touchdown for the 34th game of his career. It was all in a somewhat ho-hum stat line for the prolific signal-caller: 18 of 30 for 326 yards and five scores.

If anything, the trip to play Cal gave Mariota a chance to play in another NFL stadium. Considering how well the team has been playing since the return of left tackle Jake Fisher to the lineup, Oregon might be making a return trip to Levi's Stadium in two months for the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Freshman running back Royce Freeman proved to be a worthy sidekick once again with a 112-yard, 2-TD night on the ground. Byron Marshall continued to be a threat at multiple positions, racking up 190 yards of total offense while leading the team in receiving. Receiver Dwayne Stanford and tight end Pharaoh Brown also impressed with multiple touchdown catches, both showing off their blend of size and speed for those in attendance.

Cal's Jared Goff did what he could to match Mariota and continued to show progress as a budding young passer with a number of quality throws. It was all in a losing effort, but the sophomore still put up 360 yards and two scores through the air and will no doubt be a name to watch come draft time in a few years.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu had another quality game at cornerback for the Ducks, likely helping his stock rebound some for scouts after a rough stretch earlier in the season.

In the end, however, the Oregon offense was simply too much for an overmatched Cal defense. Mariota wasn't perfect on Friday, but he was pretty close.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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