EUGENE, Ore. – Everything about the pregame scene here felt like big-time college football, with Oregon Ducks legend Kenny Wheaton hopping on a motorcycle just before kickoff against the rival Washington Huskies, exhorting the sellout crowd at Autzen Stadium on a picture-perfect Saturday in the Willamette Valley.
But when Oregon (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) finally stopped running and catching and scoring, the result was really nothing special at all.
It was just another win over the Huskies, this one 45-20, the outcome in doubt only as long as it took the Ducks to score three touchdowns in the second quarter en route to a 28-6 halftime lead.
It was 35-6 after Oregon’s first possession of the second half, and 42-13 after Royce Freeman’s fourth rushing touchdown of the game.
Copy, paste. Wash, rinse, repeat. This beating was unfit for primetime, the Ducks hammering the Huskies for the 11th consecutive season, each of those triumphs decided by a final margin of 17 points or more.
Here was Saturday, in a nutshell, via the words of junior receiver Jaydon Mickens: “We made too many mistakes. We didn’t convert on third-down a lot, and we didn’t really establish a running game or a passing game.”
Not exactly ideal execution against the 9th-ranked team in the country, especially against Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota. The Ducks’ junior quarterback was again magnificent, completing 24-of-33 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns, helping Oregon outgain UW 554-317.
But it was Freeman, the Ducks’ freshman running back, who gashed the Huskies most frequently. He carried 29 times for 169 yards and the four scores, with zero negative rushes.
The Huskies’ (5-2, 1-2) offense wasn’t much better. Cyler Miles completed 19-of-28 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown before leaving with an apparent head injury in the fourth quarter.
UW couldn’t run the ball, either. It averaged just 3.7 yards on 36 attempts against an Oregon defense that ranked 107th in the country in yards per game allowed.
“You can point at both sides of the ball,” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said. “We got nothing going. … We got three and outs. We didn’t run the ball even nearly good enough. So, kind of back to the drawing board. Seems like it’s a little bit two steps forward, one step back here.”
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.