Oregon dominates UCLA in inaugural Pac 12 Championship Game

With my motorsports travel season finally in the books it was time to get back to shooting some football. At the last second I was given the opportunity to fly up to Eugene, Oregon to cover the inaugural Pac-12 Championship game between the UCLA Bruins and the Oregon Ducks. Of course I will jump at the chance to cover a big football game!

The last time I shot the Oregon Ducks was in the BCS Championship game where they were defeated by the Auburn Tigers. For this game though , they were highly favored to beat UCLA, who had lost to USC 50-0 the week prior.

Below is a detailed view of the Pac-12 Championship trophy that would be given out for the first time (since this was the first ever Pac-12 championship game)…

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual

Below, Oregon students run down the grandstands to get a good seat in the seconds after the stadium opened to the public.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 640iso, f5, 1/4000th, Aperture Priority

I like the below shot of a UCLA helmet laying on the field as the players warmed up prior to the game.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 1000iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Photographers are very rarely ever allowed on the field prior to the game but after seeing one photographer out there I figured “what the hell” and went out there myself. It was a good call as it enabled me to get some nice shots as the teams entered the field.

Below, Oregon Ducks tight end Brian Teague gets pumped up as he runs out onto the field with his teammates prior to the game.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

One of the bigger stories of the game was that it would be the final game for UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel (below) who was fired the week prior to the championship game.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, Oregon Ducks running back LaMichael James (21) goes airborne as he is tripped up on a run during the first quarter of the Pac-12 Championship game against the UCLA Bruins at Autzen Stadium.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

James was a runner up for the Heisman Trophy the previous season so it was a given that he would be a big factor in the game.

Below, Oregon Ducks running back LaMichael James (21) is hoisted by teammates as they celebrate his first quarter touchdown against the UCLA Bruins.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Early in the game when working on a tight deadline its always priority to get good shots of each quarterback for all the various clients on the wire.

Oregon Ducks quarterback Darron Thomas, below.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

UCLA Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince, below.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

It would be a rough evening for UCLA Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince (below) who found himself wrapped up by the Oregon defense most of the evening.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

UCLA Bruins tight end Joseph Fauria (below) runs the ball as he evades the outstretched arm of Oregon Ducks linebacker Michael Clay in the first half.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

One of the bright spots in an otherwise abysmal evening for UCLA was the below play where UCLA Bruins linebacker Patrick Larimore intercepted the ball and ran past Oregon Ducks offensive linesman Mark Asper (right) for a touchdown during the first quarter.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, Oregon Ducks tight end (32) Colt Lyerla celebrates his second quarter touchdown with teammates against the UCLA Bruins in the first half.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, UCLA Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince gets sacked by the Oregon defense. Check out his chinstrap sliding up his face…

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, UCLA Bruins wide receiver Nelson Rosario heads towards the end zone after a long pass play.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, Oregon Ducks wide receiver Daryle Hawkins (16) is congratulated by offensive linesman Hroniss Grasu (back) for scoring a touchdown during the second quarter of the Pac-12 Championship game against the UCLA Bruins at Autzen Stadium.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

One of my favorite type of football shots is a picture where you have multiple layers (such as players in front of and behind) around the person you are shooting such as in the below photo of UCLA Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince as he looks for a receiver against the Oregon Ducks defense.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

UCLA running back Derrick Coleman (below) runs the ball against Oregon in the second half.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, Oregon Ducks wide receiver (80) Lavasier Tuinei is pursued by UCLA Bruins safety Stan McKay in the second half during the Pac-12 Championship game at Autzen Stadium.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Oregon Ducks running back (21) LaMichael James, below,  runs the ball as UCLA Bruins linebacker Patrick Larimore dives at him in the second half.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Below, UCLA Bruins quarterback (4) Kevin Princes sits on the field and reacts in pain after being sacked in the fourth quarter by the Oregon Ducks.

Nikon D3s, 400mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

In the closing minutes of the blowout game I ventured onto the Oregon team bench to shoot some celebration shots.

With the win the Ducks were bound for the Rose Bowl.

Below, Oregon Ducks wide receiver (1) Josh Huff celebrates with a rose in his mouth in the closing minutes of the game against the UCLA Bruins.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Once the clock hit zero the Ducks began to celebrate and the fans rushed the field.

That can be a scary situation when you’re carrying 40 grand worth of camera gear but it also can make for some pretty cool frames.

For winning the inaugural Pac-12 Championship, the celebration was rather bland and I became nervous that I wasn’t gonna get anything good of Oregon celebrating. Then I noticed an Oregon player on the shoulders of the fans. I quickly realized it was Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas (below) so I had to find a way to wade through the sea of excited fans to get a closer up angle.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

I was literally pushing and shoving my way through the excited fans (I wasn’t above shoving women and children either!) to get within five feet of Thomas. Once up close I held the camera above my head and shot some hail mary frames of Thomas celebrating with the fans. The below photo was the result.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

Below, Oregon Ducks running back LaMichael James celebrates with a rose following the game against the UCLA Bruins during the Pac-12 Championship game at Autzen Stadium. Oregon defeated UCLA 49-31.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/800th, Manual

That wraps up the first ever Pac-12 Championship game. Up next is the final off road race of the season in AZ!

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