The hype for this game was off the charts. The final Pac-12 Championship. A rematch between the top two teams in the conference, both ranked in the top five. A duel between Heisman caliber quarterbacks. A College Football Playoff berth hanging in the balance.
Oregon came into the game with the lower ranking, but the betting favorite, looking to avenge their only loss on the season. Washington wanted to prove that their 12-0 season was deserving of the Pac-12 crown and a shot at the playoffs. Oregon got off to a slow start, something that they struggled with early in the season, allowing Washington the early opportunity to take control of the game.
Here’s how it went down.
Oregon won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Husky offense came out with a balanced attack moving the ball on the ground and picking up quick shots through the air. Kyree Jackson nearly stole a possession near midfield when he got his hands on an errant pass from Michael Penix intended for Rome Odunze. Washington would get to the Oregon 15 yard line before the Duck defense dug in their heels. A sack by Popo Aumavae put the Huskies behind the sticks and they were forced to settle for a field goal. Washington up 3-0.
Bo Nix brought out the Oregon offense for the first time after Washington had chewed half the first quarter off the clock. Nix would toss three straight incompletions, his first hitting an official, for the early three-and-out.
A good punt return set the Huskies up right at midfield. Washington would not see 3rd down on their six play drive, helped by a defensive holding call on Dontae Manning that gave them 1st and goal from the Oregon 5. Dillon Johnson would punch it in to give Washington the 10-0 lead.
The Ducks took the field looking to find some momentum, a 1-yard rush and 8-yard pass to Bucky Irving would open the drive, but an incompletion on 3rd and 1 led to another Oregon punt.
Washington would convert a 3rd and 5 on their first series, only to commit a false start on 1st down. They would not make up the yardage as Penix tossed an incompletion on 3rd and 6, leading to the first Husky punt of the night.
Oregon would start their drive from their own 10 yard line. A nice catch and run by Tez Johnson would start some momentum for the Ducks and open up some chances in the run game. A quick strike to Terrence Ferguson put Oregon in Washington territory, nice runs after the catch by Troy Franklin, and Casey Kelly put the Ducks just outside the red zone. The drive would stall at the 18 where Camden Lewis would drill the 36 yard field goal to put Oregon on the board, trailing 10-3.
The Huskies would look to air it out on their drive. Consecutive completions, including a 45 yarder to McMillan made it 1st and goal at the Oregon 4. RB Johnson took the direct snap and tossed the score to Germie Bernard. Huskies lead 17-3.
After the kick, Oregon would go to work from their own 25. Stiff defense by the Huskies prevented any chance at moving the sticks as Oregon had not converted a 3rd down yet. They would be forced to punt it away after only gaining 6 yards.
Washington would continue to lean on the passing game, including a double reverse flea flicker to move the ball into the red zone. Once again, the Ducks would plant their feet. After getting 1st down at the Oregon 22, the Huskies would be forced to settle for a field goal to make the score 20-3 in their favor.
Nix would have just shy of 2 minutes to try and answer. With strikes to Johnson and Franklin they would quickly move the ball downfield. A defensive Pass interference call would set the Ducks up 1st and goal from the 9. A scamper by Nix would dive down to the 2 and 2 plays later Ferguson would get open in the back of the endzone for the score. Ducks trail 20-10.
Oregon’s first possession of the second half started with a 17-yard run by Jordan James. The next series would see the ducks fail to convert 3rd and 5, but Lanning rolled the dice and Nix found Franklin over the middle to move the sticks. They would convert their next 3rd down on a 30-yard strike to James to get in the red zone. Another 3rd down conversion, this time to Bucky Irving, gave the Ducks 1st and goal at the 5. An incompletion and 2 short runs saw 4th down from the 2. Once again Nix would find Ferguson in the endzone. Ducks pulled within three with the score 20-17.
The Huskies would look to their run game to open their drive, earning a quick first down. The Ducks would dial up some pressure to force an incompletion and a false start to give the Huskies 3rd and 10. Penix’s pass would land in the hands of Khyree Jackson for the interception.
It wouldn’t amount to much as Nix would throw it right back to Washington 2 plays later for just his 3rd pick of the season.
Washington would start their next drive almost exactly where they gave it away previously. A defensive pass interference call on Oregon would save the drive on 3rd down when the ball bounced off the receiver’s hands. A pair of runs would see another 3rd and 2, where the fake reverse would fail when Johnson stumbled on the turf for no gain. It would be Washington’s turn to go for it on 4th down, but Nikko Reed would notch the sack for a turnover on downs.
Oregon would start out with a screen to Johnson for 7 yards. The next play, Nix escaped pressure and scampered 44 yards to the 11. An offsides against Washington would make it 1st and 5 from the six yard line. James would walk into the endzone. The extra point gave Oregon their first lead of the game 24-20.
After an initial misfire, Penix would toss back-to-back-to-back fist down completions to get into the red zone. Brandon Dorlus would get a hand on the next attempt for a ruled fumble but replay review would turn it into an incomplete pass. Penix would rush for the first down at the Oregon 8. Three straight run plays would finally punch it in to put the Huskies back on top 27-24.
Bucky Irving would get the initial 1st down for the Ducks before being stuffed behind the line to set up a long 2nd down. A short completion to Irving would leave it 3rd and 9. Nix would get stopped at the line to bring on another punt.
The Huskies would march quickly down the field with Penix finding open receivers and Johnson finding running lanes. Setting up with 1st and goal from the 4, Oregon would force 3rd down, but Penix would find his tight end for the score to stretch the lead 34-24.
Oregon would take just two plays to answer. A long run from Bo Nix and a 59-yard catch and run by Traeshon Holden would close the gap to 34-31.
The onside kick attempt would get knocked out of bounds by Washington giving the Huskies the ball at the 45 with just over 2 minutes left on the clock. Oregon was able to force 3rd and 4 with a chance to get the ball back. A first down completion gave them a fresh set of downs and the chance to ice the game. Oregon would battle to a 3rd and 9 with 1:01 left in the game and an opportunity to get the ball back. Johnson would find a hole for the first down and effectively seal the game.
Huskies Advance, Ducks Await Bowl Assignment
Bo Nix would finish 21-24 with 234 yards, 3 TDs and 1 Int. He would also finish as the Ducks leading rusher with 69 yards on 6 carries. The Ducks were only 30% on third down but managed to convert both of their 4th down attempts. Washington out-gained the Ducks 481 to 363, earned 26 first downs to Oregon’s 17, and won time of possession by holding the ball for 36:44.
Washington should be headed to the CFP, likely as the 3rd place seed. Oregon will likely end up in the Fiesta Bowl.