CHRISTIAN CAPLE’S Keys to the Oregon-WSU Game
What went right
The Cougars were resilient in the first half, responding to a 20-3 deficit by pulling within 23-19 at halftime. WSU’s defense came up with a couple of stops late in the first half that kept the Cougars in the game at least that long. And WSU’s special-teams units corralled Ducks returner De’Anthony Thomas effectively all night.
What went wrong
Oregon’s offense was simply too powerful for the Cougars, who couldn’t keep up as the Ducks scored four unanswered TDs in the second half. And the Cougars again struggled with explosive, game-changing plays on both sides of the ball, watching Kenjon Barner score on an 80-yard run in the fourth quarter after the game turned on a Connor Halliday interception earlier in the half. UO sacked Halliday seven times.
Already trailing by 11 points and needing a response to a long, methodical Oregon scoring drive, the Cougars found themselves out of it for good when Halliday threw an interception that was returned 34 yards by Avery Patterson for a touchdown. The score put the Ducks up 37-19, and WSU never recovered.
WSU never figured out how to stop Barner, as the shifty back took 20 carries for 195 yards – an average of 9.8 yards per carry – and three touchdowns. Oregon’s defensive front also generated a great deal of pressure, sacking Halliday on three consecutive plays on WSU’s final possession of the second half to prevent the Cougars from making things even more interesting than they were at that point.