EUGENE, OR – Two of college football’s most exciting quarterbacks met under the lights Saturday night, where Oregon’s Heisman hopeful Bo Nix defeated reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams 36-27.
Following a terrible defensive performance from USC that largely contributed to the firing of their defensive coordinator, Alex Grinch, expectations for Oregon’s run game were extremely high headed into Saturday’s matchup. Last week, the Trojans allowed 316 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground to Washington but only allowed 140 yards and 1 touchdown to Oregon.
Instead, it was Bo Nix who delivered what head coach Dan Lanning referred to as a “Heisman-worthy performance”, completing 23/31 for 412 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Ducks attacked USC’s vulnerable secondary immediately, where Nix connected with Tez Johnson for a 77-yard touchdown on their first possession and Troy Franklin for an 84-yard touchdown on their second.
Oregon’s defense was phenomenal, holding a Williams-led offense that averaged 40.7 points a game to only 27. The Ducks were consistently able to apply pressure on Williams, sacking him a total of three times and forcing a pivotal fumble late in the third quarter that was recovered by Evan Williams. The Ducks looked to be on the verge of another blowout victory as the fumble recovery set up a 19-yard rushing touchdown from Bucky Irving on the first play of the fourth quarter, extending their lead to 22 at a score of 36-14.
However, Irving’s touchdown would be Oregon’s last score of the game, and Williams found a way to keep the Trojans alive as he miraculously avoided pressure and extended plays with his legs. USC scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, but ultimately ran out of time before they could officially mount a comeback. Williams finished the night 19/34 for 291 yards and 2 total touchdowns.
“Our defense played really well… I felt like we put the defense in a bad spot at the end… In the fourth quarter, you look up and it’s 11 minutes left, and we didn’t do a whole lot” Nix stated after the game. Nix and the Ducks will certainly leave Saturday happy with a win against a dangerous USC team but will need to finish games and clean up penalties if they hope to reach the College Football Playoff this season.
Oregon will head to the desert next weekend to face the Arizona State Sun Devils (3-7).