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Taking a Look Back at the Last Time Oregon Faced Fresno State

The Ducks are meeting the Bulldogs for the first time in nine years on Saturday at Autzen Stadium.

The wait is finally over. It's gameday. No. 11 Oregon takes on Fresno State at 11 a.m. PST on Saturday inside a fan-filled Autzen Stadium.

The two West Coast programs will meet for the 10th time ever, and the Ducks are looking to win their eighth straight game against the Bulldogs. A win for Fresno State over Oregon would be the first since 1982.

But let's take a look at when the two teams faced off the last time. It was Sept. 8, 2012, at an Autzen Stadium packed with more than 55,000 fans mostly wearing yellow to match the Ducks' glowing yellow jerseys.

Oregon was the fourth-ranked team in the country; Fresno State was in its first season in the Mountain West after being a member of the Western Athletic Conference.

The Ducks were coming off of a Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin and were a popular candidate to return to the BCS National Championship Game for the second time in three seasons. But a couple of major questions hung around in the offseason: who would be the starting quarterback to replace Darron Thomas, and how would the Ducks possibly replace LaMichael James?

Nine years later, the answers to those questions, particularly the former, are fairly obvious. Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota made his first career start the week prior against Arkansas State, throwing three touchdown passes and 200 yards with only four incompletions.

The Ducks also brought back Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, who were two of the most electric players in the country. Fresno State also had an impressive cast on offense, including junior quarterback Derek Carr and junior wide receiver Davante Adams. Sound familiar?

The starting quarterback matchup — Carr vs. Mariota — foreshadowed the now No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks, respectively, on the Las Vegas Raiders' depth chart nearly a decade later. This game also gave college football fans nationwide a look at Adams, who is now widely regarded as the best wide receiver in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers.

Oregon was led by fourth-year head coach Chip Kelly, who had already established himself as one of the best offensive minds in the country with his blazing fast, no-huddle spread offense.

Fresno State had a new coach on the sidelines in 2012: a man by the name of Tim DeRuyter. DeRuyter replaced Pat Hill after 15 years as the Bulldogs' head coach.

Now the Ducks defensive coordinator, DeRuyter will coach on the sideline at Autzen Stadium for the first time since that game nine years ago, albeit from the opposite sideline. He told the media last week that he had fond memories of the game against Chip's Ducks in Eugene.

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"I remember it being a very, very loud stadium. Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of that noise that week," DeRuyter said. "It was difficult to execute against Oregon."

It definitely was tough to execute in the first half against the Ducks, as they roared to a 35-3 lead at one point in the first half. By halftime, Thomas and Barner had combined for four touchdowns.

DeRuyter's Bulldogs managed to make the final margin a bit smaller, outscoring the Ducks 19-7 in the second half and forcing three turnovers. Oregon would go on to win 42-25, paced by Barner's 222 total yards and three scores, as well as Thomas' 128 yards and two touchdowns on only 11 touches. Mariota threw for 166 yards and a touchdown on 19-of-27 passing.

Saturday morning's game will bring back a wave of memories from the 2012 loss for DeRuyter as he faces his former program, but now he'll be encouraging the Oregon crowd to be insufferably loud rather than fear it.

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