It’s one of those things you don’t realize until after the fact, but Oregon had not won at Washington State since 2014.
That streak is no more as the Ducks used a strong second half to defeat the Cougars 43-29 to go 2-0 on this abbreviated season.
Tyler Shough threw for 314 yards and four touchdowns and CJ Verdell rambled for 114 yards and another score.
The Ducks had to erase an early 19-7 deficit in order to overcome an upstart WSU team that might be a lot better than most thought. Oregon was definitely on the ropes, but they outscored the Cougars 32-10 after falling down by 12.
Blake Mazza booted a 49-yard goal with just 24 seconds before halftime. With momentum clearly on the Cougars’ sideline, Oregon managed to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and play more like the Ducks.
Those 24 seconds were just enough to begin the rally and Mychal Wright’s 40-yard kickoff return went a long way to wake the Ducks up. Shough then somehow found Jaylon Redd sneak behind the Cougar secondary and completed a 57-yard pass down to the three. Oregon still had two timeouts left and with seven seconds left, Verdell powered his way into the end zone.
Oregon was down just 19-14 at halftime and the Ducks had to feel great about it. The Ducks had turned the ball over three times to kill possible scoring drives. But Oregon defense managed to hold WSU to field goals and out of the end zone, which kept the Ducks in the game and allowed for a rally.
It did take nearly the entire third quarter for Oregon to take the lead, however. Shough threw a rope down the middle to hit Travis Dye over the middle for a 16-yard touchdown to go ahead 21-19 with 3:12 left in the third.
That lead was extended to 28-19 just a few seconds into the fourth as Oregon completed a seven-play, 80-yard drive. Shough found Johnnie Johnson III in the corner of the end zone for a two-yard score. WSU could have easily folded the tent, but the Cougars made it a one-score game with another Mazza field goal.
Oregon kept the pedal to the medal with a touchdown on the very next possession. On a third-and-two, Shough hit a streaking Dye down the right sideline on a wheel route for a 71-yard score. Once Dye caught the ball, he outran the defense and he was gone. The Ducks made the two-point conversion for the 14-point lead at 36-22.
WSU scored again four minutes later to make it 36-29 and a one-touchdown game once again. The Cougars needed one defense stop in order to set up a possible last-minute score for a possible overtime scenario, but that stop never came.
On six straight running plays, the Ducks went 75 yards in three minutes that ended with Cyrus Hibibi-Likio punching it in from one yard out to account for the final tally.
Now the Ducks get to prepare for UCLA and Chip Kelly’s offense for a Saturday date at Autzen Stadium. The Bruins are 1-1 and are coming off a 34-10 win over Cal.