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Freeman a no-go despite appearances

EUGENE — Running back Royce Freeman missed Saturday’s 41-38 loss to Colorado at Autzen Stadium with a lower leg injury he suffered against Nebraska last week.

Freeman had been seen at practice during the week and he was in uniform during warmups and was listed as the starter.

But he came out for the start of the game wearing sweats, ending a streak of 16 straight starts for Freeman, a junior who also didn’t play for the first time in 31 career games.

Tony Brooks-James, Kani Benoit and Taj Griffin again shared the load in the backfield and combined for 196 yards on 38 carries.

All three also had a touchdown, with Griffin scoring on a 1-yard run in the first quarter, Brooks-James scoring on a 1-yarder in the third quarter — his team-leading sixth TD of the season — and Benoit scoring from 3-yards out in the third quarter.

"Obviously, Royce is unique, but the other guys had very good production," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "There are not too many things we are doing different without Royce. Tony did a nice job, and Kani and Taj did good things."

Brooks-James said that Freeman told him Monday he would not play.

"I made up my mind it was time to play," said Brooks-James, who led the Ducks with a career-high 120 yards on 16 carries. "I am going to practice how I practice and play how I play. Just go when I have to."

DYE'S IMPACT: Linebacker Troy Dye was back in the lineup and back making big plays for the Ducks defense.

The true freshman once again led the Oregon with 10 tackles, including a 9-yard sack, and made an interception late in the third quarter that the Oregon offense turned into a touchdown.

Dye was the Pac-12 defensive player of the week in his debut when he had 11 tackles in a win against UC Davis. He had six tackles the following week in a 44-26 win over Virginia.

However, last week against Nebraska, Dye only participated on special teams. Oregon gave no explanation for his absence against the Cornhuskers and defensive coordinator Brady Hoke only said Dye had been “unavailable.”

PENALTIES MOUNT: Oregon entered the game as one of the most penalized teams in the nation and didn’t help itself again on Saturday.

The Ducks were flagged eight times for 75 yards against Colorado, which was flagged just five times for 47 yards.

That brought Oregon’s season total to 41 penalties in four games. Before the game they ranked 121st out of 128 FCS teams in penalties, and were 126th with an average of 104.7 penalty yards per game, ahead of only Marshall and Troy

AN UNWANTED FIRST: The Ducks lost to the Buffaloes for the first time in Pac-12 play.

In their previous five matchups, Oregon beat Colorado by and average score of 51.4-13.2.

“I think so,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said when asked if it was a signature win for the program. “You’re playing the perennial Pac-12 champion. The last time we came here it was Marcus Mariota day and they killed us and 80 percent of these kids were out there. … I think these kids believe they can beat anybody.”

The victory was also the Buffaloes first win at Autzen Stadium since the first-ever game played at the venue on Sept. 23, 1967, when ninth-ranked CU won 17-13.

FIELD GOAL MARK: Kicker Aidan Schneider moved into fourth place all-time at Oregon with his 41-yard field goal in the final minutes of the second quarter.

It was the 36th field goal of his career on 39 attempts.

Schneider was also a perfect 5-for-5 on his point-after attempts.