Washington State (4-4, 2-3 Pac-12) won some battles against No. Oregon (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12) Saturday night in Eugene, OR. In the end, the Ducks won the war by a final of 62-38.
Turnovers by the Cougs in the second half proved to be their undoing.
WSU edged close to being blown out like virtually every other Oregon opponent early in the first half. Just a little over a minute into the second quarter Thomas Tyner punched the ball into the end zone to put his team up 27-7.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, a Heisman candidate front runner, played flawless football in the first and third quarters. That’s something very familiar to Duck fans.
Instead of hanging their heads when it looked as though this one would be over before halftime, the Cougar defense forced two fumbles from Mariota, his first turnovers this season.
After cashing in on the turnover, the first play of the ensuing Oregon possession was more of the same. This time around it was Darryl Monroe knocking the ball out for Cooper who scooped it up and rambled 29-yards for a touchdown to draw the Cougs within a score at 27-21.
With time running out in the opening half of play, Deone Bucannon ripped the ball away from Byron Marshall at the end of his 35-yard romp down the sideline. Connor Halliday moved WSU down the field with just a little over a minute left before intermission for a 49-yard field goal by Andrew Furney.
Oregon regrouped during halftime then came out to win all the significant battles of the second half to enjoy a big conference win. And like every other team the Ducks have matched up against in 2013, WSU wasn’t able to make enough adjustments.
Looking much like a legitimate national champion contender, the Ducks returned to playing error-free over the final 30-minutes. They also picked off three errant Halliday passes to effectively thwart WSU drives.
Though the score might indicate otherwise, Washington State played a complete game. Following both the game plan and the direction of Coach Mike Leach, the Cougs didn’t take a single down off.
In the end, the well established program at Oregon clearly is much better than Washington State’s and left no doubt why they are the No. 2 ranked team in the country.
When comparing the skill positions, the Ducks had more athleticism, plain and simple.
After playing eight consecutive weeks, WSU gets a much needed bye week to do a little regrouping of their own.
Washington State has been on the wrong end of lopsided scores three of the last four games. Following their upcoming bye week, they will have four games left on their regular season schedule. Winning at least two out of the four will leave the Cougs bowl eligible, something few projected before the year began.
Because of the single-minded full effort exerted despite coming out on the short end of the score Saturday night, there is reason to expect this team will continue to improve.
WASHINGTON STATE NOTES
- Connor Halliday set school and Pac-12 records against Oregon by attempting 89 passes, completing 58.
- The 38-points scored by WSU is the most surrendered to an opponent by Oregon this season, eclipsing the previous high mark of 24 came against the UW last week.
- Halliday completed passes to 11 different receivers for 557-yards
- Gabe Marks led Cougar receivers with 13 catches for 143-yards and went over the 100-reception milestone for his career