EUGENE, OR – The No. 3 Oregon Ducks are only one win away from appearing in their third straight Pac-12 Conference Championship and seem to control their own destiny at making the 2021 College Football Playoff after defeating Washington State 38-24 in.
Duck fans were nervous in Autzen Stadium early as Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laurea found Calvin Jackson Jr. for what appeared to be a 77-yard touchdown on only the second play from scrimmage, but after review Jackson Jr. was called out at the 7-yard line setting the Cougars up with a quick first and goal. Oregon caught a huge break on the next play and was able to get the ball back without giving up any points after Oregon safety Jamal Hill forced de Laura to fumble out of the end zone while scrambling, resulting in a touchback.
The Ducks jumped out to a 14-0 lead early but let Washington State back into the game after a Travis Dye fumble and turnover on downs in the second quarter both led to quick scores for the Cougars tying the game 14-14 at half.
Oregon got back on track at the start of the second half as Mykael Wright returned the opening kickoff 56 yards to the Washington State 43-yard line, and Anthony Brown ran in an impressive 17-yard touchdown run.
Brown had a great day on the ground, rushing for 123 yards, but gave the Cougars another chance as he fumbled on the 1-yard line looking to extend their lead. Washington State drove down and brought the game within one score at 24-17 after Dean Janikowski kicked a 34-yard field goal.
A somewhat unlikely hero in freshman running back Byron Cardwell put the game away for the Ducks in the 4th quarter where he scored two touchdowns and finished with 98 rushing yards on just 9 carries. With star running back CJ Verdell sidelined due to an undisclosed injury, head coach Mario Cristobal has looked to his strong freshman class in search of depth and must be pleased with how Cardwell has responded. After the game Cristobal stated, “Byron has stepped up and played a significant role and has made some really big runs, some explosive runs and has made people miss on contact plus two.”
The Ducks have big goals this season but know they can’t look ahead yet. Kayvon Thibodeaux explain that “Every game is a playoff game.” Oregon will face another ranked opponent next week as they head to Utah to face the Utes at 4:30 pm PST (ABC).