In the Oregon Ducks’ first six games they fumbled the ball just three times. They matched that in a half against Washington State. Oregon’s façade of perfection cracked early in the face of a fearsome Cougars pass rush.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota was sacked four times and fumbled twice before halftime. They were his first two giveaways of any sort this season. Defensive tackle Xavier Cooper picked up the second and ran it 29 yards for a touchdown. It was the first scoop and score for the Cougars since Will Derting in the 2004 Apple Cup.
Mariota was able to keep one streak going, however, since the Cougars were unable to intercept one of the quarterback’s passes. Entering the contest Mariota hadn’t thrown an interception in 233 consecutive passes, dating back to last season. Granted, opponents miss some critical opportunities to pick the talented signal caller from Hawaii – the Ducks are usually up by so much that Mariota doesn’t play in the fourth quarter.
Because of that, the Heisman hopeful was just seventh in the conference in passing attempts before Saturdays’ games. But Mariota makes the most of his limited attempts, and his passer rating of 182.4 is the most efficient in the Pac-12 by nearly 20 points.
The Cougars had a pair of costly first-half turnovers themselves. After catching a pass beyond the first down marker, receiver Vince Mayle fumbled at the Oregon 1-yard line. The ball bounced into the end zone where it was recovered by Oregon for a touchback. WSU quarterback Connor Halliday lofted a ball into the end zone during the second quarter, where it was intercepted.
Halliday extended his NCAA-leading interception total to 17, adding four against the ducks as the Cougars finished the game with five turnovers of their own.
Duck dominance continues
The Cougars have now lost their last seven contests with the Ducks following Saturday’s 62-38 defeat. In 2006 WSU beat No. 16 Oregon, and the team last won in Eugene in 2003 with a 55-16 victory over the 10th-ranked Ducks.
UO’s current winning streak nearly comprises the difference in the series, which is led by the Ducks, 46-38-7. WSU’s longest winning streak over the Ducks is four games, which the Cougars have accomplished three separate times.
Pretty in pink
In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month the home team was decked out in pink socks, cleats, gloves, and even helmets. UO’s mascot even got into the act, wearing a pink cape and riding a pink motorcycle.
The school auctioned off 25 of the helmets throughout the week leading up to the game to benefit the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. The charity has raised $2.6 million for scientific research and programs associated with women’s cancers. It is named for former North Carolina State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow.