EditorsNote: Stat fix in lede graph; Edit 2: Fixes throughout
Despite being held to just 203 total yards, its lowest output of the season, Oregon took advantage of a fourth-quarter touchdown to beat Michigan State 7-6 in the Redbox Bowl on Monday in Santa Clara, Calif.
A touchdown pass from Justin Herbert to Dillon Mitchell with 11:19 to play proved to be the difference as Michigan State’s offense was unable to take advantage of three trips to the red zone while missing or misplaying two field goals in the final nine minutes of the game.
Herbert finished just 19-for-33 for 166 yards and the Ducks gained only 37 yards on the ground against the No. 1 rushing defense in the nation.
However, Michigan State (7-6) couldn’t find the end zone for the third time in the last four games. Quarterback Brian Lewerke was 22-for-40 for 172 yards while senior running back LJ Scott gained 84 yards on 24 carries. Junior wide receiver Darrell Stewart Jr. had nine catches for 45 yards.
Offensive firepower was nowhere to be found in the first half as neither team could find a rhythm.
Michigan State did a better job of moving the ball, gaining 169 total yards, but an interception thrown by Lewerke under pressure deep in Oregon territory early in the second quarter ended the Spartans’ only true scoring threat while the Ducks couldn’t convert a deep pass from Herbert to Mitchell, who was unable to hang on in the end zone in the second quarter.
The Ducks managed just 90 yards of total offense, including 18 on the ground as the Spartans’ defense controlled the game in the first half.
However, the Michigan State offense failed to take advantage. The first miscue came on the first play of the second quarter with the Spartans facing a third-and-5 on the Oregon 20.
Lewerke dropped the shotgun snap and had trouble picking up the ball. When he finally corralled it, he heaved the ball downfield and it was intercepted by Oregon’s Jevon Holland at the 16.
On the following drive, the Ducks moved into Michigan State territory when Mitchell broke away from the Spartans’ defense but failed to haul in a well-thrown ball by Herbert as he dove into the end zone.
While Oregon didn’t threaten again, Michigan State twice moved into Oregon territory. The first drive ended at the Ducks 23 when the Spartans failed to convert on a fourth-and-1. And late in the first half, Michigan State got as far as the Oregon 38 before being forced to punt.
Michigan State opened the second half with its best drive of the game, going 64 yards on 12 plays, capping things with a 34-yard field goal by Matt Coghlin with 9:57 left in the third quarter to give the Spartans a 3-0 lead.
Later in the quarter, Michigan State was able to pick up two first downs before things dried up, leading to another 34-yard field goal from Coghlin to give the Spartans a 6-0 lead with 1:17 left in the third quarter.
Oregon’s offense finally came to life in the fourth quarter, taking just 1:40 off the clock to gain the lead after a 28-yard pass from Herbert to Mitchell put the Ducks ahead 7-6 with 11:19 to go.
The drive went 77 yards and took just six plays, with three going for more than 15 yards.
—Field Level Media