The Oregon machine was clicking. Oregon looked to have an overmatched opponent coming into Autzen Stadium in the Washington State Cougars. Many remember this game as the pink out where the Ducks rolled out their pepto pink helmets. Many also remember this as the game where Nick Allioti signed his own walking papers with his post-game tirade against Mike Leach and the 89 passes thrown by Connor Halliday.
This was a trap game of sorts; several upsets already having occurred in the week, the next week UCLA was coming into town and Washington State knew how to do one thing, sling the ball all over the field. This was the most successful WSU team in several years, finally being bowl eligible. A week before, they had given up 28 points to OSU in the 4th quarter and were out looking for redemption.
Moment Starts at 56:09. Sorry I couldn't find the play outside of the entire game.
With Oregon leading 27-7, Washington State was on the march. The drive was kept alive much in part to Erick Dargan's personal foul which put the Cougs in business at midfield. It seemed as though they were outing together a drive to get WSU back into the game. With a first down inside the red zone, Connor Halliday found Vince Mayle open and he was headed straight for the end zone.
Dargan, responsible for the drive still having life broke down, put his hat on the ball, creating a fumble into the end zone where Rodney Hardrick fell on the ball ending the Washington State scoring threat and giving Oregon the ball back, preserving the 20 point lead.
Why It Matters
It's tough to look at these plays in a vacuum. Remember the next two Oregon possessions. Let's say the remainder of the first half stays the same. Two Marcus Mariota fumbles; his first two turnovers of the year, and 14 Cougar points off of those turnovers. Had Mayle scored on that possession, Oregon would have found themselves trailing deep in the second quarter and only a 3 point lead going into the break.
Washington State had no intentions of going down easy and being that tight would have their heads held high. Dargan's forced fumble kept the Ducks up in the lead and forced Washington State to continue trying to play catch up throughout the game.