Sep. 1, 2018 11:54 PM EDT
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Justin Herbert threw for five touchdowns and ran for another score to lead No. 24 Oregon to a 58-24 victory over Bowling Green on Saturday night.
Herbert completed 10 of 21 passes for 281 yards and the five passing TDs were the most for a Duck in a season-opening game. He also rushed for 41 yards.
The victory extended Oregon’s winning streak in home openers to 14 straight.
Bowling Green, which went 2-10 last season, jumped in front 10-0 in the first quarter, but the Ducks scored 37 unanswered points until the Falcons scored again just before the halftime to make it 37-17.
Bowling Green quarterback Jarret Doege threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Scott Miller had 166 receiving yards and two touchdowns and Andrew Clair ran for 113 yards.
The win kicked off Mario Cristobal’s first season as head coach of Oregon. Cristobal was promoted when Willie Taggart left after a single season to become head coach at Florida State. The Ducks went 7-6 last year.
Following a 36-yard field goal from Nate Needham, Bowling Green stretched its early margin on Doege’s 6-yard pass to Scott Miller. Doege started the Falcons’ final four games last season as a freshman and the team averaged 35 points.
But The Ducks answered on the ensuing drive with Herbert’s 33-yard pass to Jaylon Redd in the end zone before pulling in front with Herbert’s 9-yard scoring pass to Dylan Mitchell. Herbert added a 2-yard keeper to put the Ducks up 21-10.
Herbert missed five games last season with a fractured collarbone and the Ducks went 1-4 over that span. This season he’s being mentioned as an early Heisman Trophy candidate.
Oregon’s fourth straight scoring drive ended with Herbert’s 40-yard TD pass to Johnny Johnson before a bad snap on a Bowling Green punt led to a safety and Cyrus Haabibi-Likio scored on a 5-yard run.
With six seconds left to halftime, Doege found Andrew Clair with a 9-yard scoring pass for a 20-point lead at the break.
Ugo Amadi had a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown to open the second half for the Ducks. Herbert added an 83-yard TD pass to Taj Griffin before he left the game and Braxton Burmeister took over.
Doege’s second scoring pass to Miller was for 63 yards with just under three minutes to play in the third. Herbert returned before the end of the quarter and connected with Redd for a 48-yard TD midway through the fourth before leaving the game for good.
Herbert was intercepted twice. He has just seven interceptions in his Oregon career.
Bowling Green: Bowling Green hasn’t won an opener since beating Tulsa 34-7 to kick off the 2013 season, and it hasn’t won an opener on the road since it bested Idaho 32-15 in 2011. The team’s last win over a Power 5 opponent came in 2015 against Purdue, while its last win over a ranked opponent was against No. 16 NIU in the 2013 MAC championship game.
Oregon: Oregon has scored at least 40 points in all of its 13 home-opening victories except one: In 2009 they beat Purdue 38-36. … Herbert surpassed the Oregon record for most TD passes in a season opener held by Akili Smith (1998) and Danny O’Neill (1994).
Former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota’s Motiv8 Foundation sent a group of about 400 kids from the Eugene Boys & Girls Club to the game. The Heisman Trophy winner also partnered with the Ducks to raise funds for those impacted by Hurricane Lane in Hawaii.
Bowling Green: The Falcons host Maryland next Saturday.
Oregon: The Ducks stay home to face Portland State next Saturday.