STANFORD, Calif. — No. 13 Oregon might have the Pac-12′s best quarterback, defense and punter.
That proved to be a winning trifecta as the Ducks opened conference play with a 21-6 triumph over Stanford on Saturday night at Stanford Stadium.
Justin Herbert, despite being sacked four times and hurried on two throws, was an efficient 19-for-24 passing for 259 yards and three touchdowns.
In 12 career Pac-12 road starts, Herbert has 26 touchdowns and two interceptions
“That’s a first-round (NFL) pick,” tight end Jacob Breeland said after catching two more touchdowns passes from Herbert, bringing his season total to five. “He will put it perfectly where it needs to be, and we go from there.
“He’s the best quarterback in the nation.”
Herbert is completing 74.4 percent of his passes this season with 1,127 yards, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Oregon enters its first bye week ranked 22nd in the nation in passing yards (304.0 per game) and 27th in scoring offense (38.5 ppg).
“This is our first win against Stanford in a while,” Herbert said after the Ducks ended their three-game losing streak in the series. “It meant a lot to us and we’re really enjoying this experience and can’t wait to get back to work.”
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Andy Avalos’ defense is taking a lot of the pressure off Herbert’s shoulder pads.
Through four games, Oregon is eighth in points allowed (10.5 per game), 13th in yards allowed (262.8 per game), 10th in tackles for loss (8.25 per game) and fifth in interceptions (six).
The Ducks haven’t allowed a touchdown in the 42 drives since Auburn scored the game-winning touchdown with nine seconds left in the opener.
“I think we have a lot of things we need to improve on, regardless of how it looks from the outside,” said safety Jevon Holland, whose interception of Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello led to the Ducks’ final touchdown in the fourth quarter. “From the inside, we have a lot of things to improve on.
“Like (Avalos) says, chase the standard.”
Blake Maimone was the unsung hero in Saturday's victory, averaging 45.7 yards on six punts with a long of 57 yards and five placed inside the 20-yard line.
Stanford returned only two punts for a total of nine yards.
Maimone pinned the Cardinal back at its own 10-yard line twice and at its own 8-yard line twice.
“Blake has been, for the most part, really consistent all year,” coach Mario Cristobal said. “He flipped the field for us ... made it difficult for them to sustain drives.”
The Ducks (3-1, 1-0) will get some time to rest, perhaps welcome some injured players back to practice and work on the running game and placekicking game during the bye week.
Oregon plays host to No. 15 California at 5 p.m. on Oct. 5 at Autzen Stadium. The Bears (4-0, 1-0) host Arizona State on Friday at Memorial Stadium (7:30 p.m., ESPN).