EUGENE, OR – As you might expect with two Pac-12 rivals who are both ranked in the top 25, emotions were high in Autzen stadium when the No. 6 Oregon Ducks hosted the No. 25 Washington Huskies. The Huskies had only won 2 out of their last 17 matchups against the Ducks prior to Saturday’s meeting, but the number 1 ranked Husky pass offense was able to dissect Oregon’s 117th-ranked pass defense, upsetting the Ducks 37-34 on their own field.
The two went back and forth all night, most notably in the third quarter when Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. connected with wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk for a 76-yard touchdown, reclaiming the lead at 27-24. Oregon quarterback Bo Nix immediately answered with a touchdown of his own the following drive when he found wide receiver Troy Franklin for a 67-yard touchdown, giving the lead back to the Ducks at 31-27.
Bo Nix, who lately has been included in the Heisman contention conversation, was electric until an injury late in the fourth quarter caused the Oregon offense to sputter in a back-and-forth game. Nix threw for 280 yards and 2 touchdowns and led the Ducks in rushing yards with another 143 on the ground.
Because of Nix’s injury, the Ducks looked to redshirt freshman Ty Thompson in a tie game with only 3:07 seconds left in the 4th quarter, but without Nix the Oregon offense was unable to move the ball. The Ducks had been dominating Washington on the ground all night, but attempted four straight rushes for only 8 yards, failing to convert on 4th down when Noah Wittington slipped immediately after the handoff.
Oregon Head Coach Dan Lanning received criticism for his decision to attempt a 4th down conversion instead of punting, especially without putting Nix back in the game who could be seen on the sidelines saying he was ready to go back in. When asked about the situation Lanning stated, “you can say in retrospect ‘we should punt there, have a chance,’ but you also feel like hey you get that first, you probably have a chance to go win the game.”
Oregon fans let dreams of the College Football Playoffs creep back into their minds as the Ducks worked their way through conference play, but after an extremely disappointing loss need to remember this is only Dan Lanning’s first year as a head coach. Lanning owned the loss, stating “This game 100% falls on me”, but there were always going to be growing pains and learnings that would come from this season. The future of the Oregon Football program looks brighter than ever and is in great hands with Dan Lanning leading the way.