Oregon missed five defensive starters Saturday afternoon at Ohio State, including arguably college football's best player in end Kayvon Thibodeaux.
The Ducks flew cross-country from Eugene, Oregon, to Columbus, Ohio – and according to their head coach, they likewise knew the reporting on this game signaled an expected easy win for the Buckeyes.
But Mario Cristobal said he had a secret weapon in the stands – his old high school coach.
Oregon never trailed, led by two touchdowns after three different scores and saw the host Buckeyes never once pull even with the Ducks across the game's final 49-plus minutes.
“We had five starters out on defense and coming into this thing, you wondered what was going to show up, and what showed up was practice, preparation,” Cristobal, bear-hugged from behind by defensive tackle Brandon Dorlus, said postgame on Fox. “My high school coach is in the stands, so you knew we had to win today because Coach Lavelle (Dennis Lavelle) don't play around.”
Cristobal then explained how the Ducks blocked out noise outside the program and won a game that had been years in the process.
“Well, I think a lot of people … these guys got tired of reading the headlines, which they shouldn't read anyway after Game 1 against a very good Fresno State team,” Cristobal said. “So what went on here is just the process, you know, this is three or four years of building towards this moment and then making it a reality.
“So tremendous progress, but it's just the beginning. We've got work to do.”