Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has yet another decision to make after the season as to whether he returns to Eugene or declares early for the NFL draft. No matter what the redshirt junior chooses, he'll end 2014 with an impressive home finale on his resume.
The Ducks' signal-caller accounted for four scores in another seemingly effortless victory over Colorado on a rainy day at Autzen Stadium. He also broke former USC quarterback Matt Barkley's conference record for most touchdowns in a single season, accounting for his 42nd score this season (Barkley accounted for 41 in 2011). Oregon, ranked second in the most recent College Football Playoff selection committee top 25, improved to 10-1.
Mariota, by the way, still has at least three games left to play this season.
The Heisman Trophy front-runner was sharp once again in the passing game, despite the conditions, going 24-of-32 for 323 yards and three touchdowns. His final pass of the day came just as the clock was winding down in the third quarter, with Mariota lifting a beautiful touch pass over a defensive back to find freshman Charles Nelson in the middle of the end zone from 14 yards out.
That proved to be the last score of the game in the 44-10 win, and it could be the final time Mariota roams the turf at Autzen.
Mariota also helped bewilder the Buffs using his athleticism, rushing for 73 yards on just eight carries. He showed why he's considered one of the fastest players in the country at his position by outrunning everybody on a 46-yard scamper to the end zone, running for a score like it was a walk in the park.
His battery mate in the backfield, freshman Royce Freeman, continued to look like one of the top young runners in the country with a 105-yard, two-touchdown day in limited action during the blowout.
Ducks star cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, a senior, played the final home game of his career Saturday and had a memorable performance after being limited with nagging injuries the past few weeks. He returned from the team's bye week to hold Colorado's Nelson Spruce -- who came into the game leading the country in receptions -- to just two grabs for 16 yards, which is his lowest output of the year. Although he wasn't exclusively matched up with Spruce one-on-one, the good showing continues to build on a stronger second half of the season for Ekpre-Olomu, who was picked on earlier in the year.
Colorado dropped to 2-9 and saw its normally high-flying offense ground to a halt.
Another day, another win for Oregon and another great performance by Mariota.