When Marcus Mariota returned to Oregon after last season, there were a few things he was looking to accomplish in what was probably his final season in Eugene.
Winning a Pac-12 title, setting every school record imaginable and getting the Ducks to the national title game were probably high on his list. None, however, might have meant as much to him than beating longtime nemesis Stanford after sporting a 0-2 record against them coming in.
Mariota did just that -- and then some -- in a performance he won't forget during a 45-16 win over the Cardinal that exorcised plenty of demons for the program.
Although he wasn't perfect -- he threw his second interception of the season -- Mariota was effective at quarterback and recorded 343 yards of total offense with four touchdowns on the night. Considering it was all against the Pac-12's best defense and one of the top units in the country, Mariota was somehow able to make the difficult look easy.
It was also, it should be noted, the first time he faced the Stanford defense fully healthy after nagging injuries the past two seasons helped cost his Ducks the conference crown and a likely trip to play for the national title. A few of Mariota's throws sailed high, but late in the game he showed why he might be the first player taken in the 2015 NFL Draft, adding a few style points to the win by connecting on a beautiful touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone from 25 yards out to Darren Carrington.
Oregon stayed fairly balanced in the 525-yard offensive performance, with solid efforts from running backs Thomas Tyner and Royce Freeman. The underclassmen each were over five yards per carry on the night, and Tyner added two scores on the ground, including a nifty spin move that put him in the end zone, all but delivering the dagger in the third quarter.
Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery had a quiet night and was fairly limited thanks to one of the better defensive performances this season by the Ducks. While Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu paid plenty of attention to Montgomery, wideout Devon Cajuste was able to skirt free for some big plays in the passing game to the tune of 116 yards. Cardinal left tackle Andrus Peat came into the game with first-round potential and flashed plenty of athleticism in dealing with an active front seven.
It wasn't meant to be for the Cardinal for a third straight season, however, as any dreams of another Pac-12 title died on the turf at Autzen Stadium on Saturday night.
As for the Ducks, they delivered their revenge, sent a statement to the College Football Playoff selection committee and might just realize their dream season after all.