There’s nothing worse than wrestling a wet dawg. But it’s worth it for the No. 4 Oregon Ducks (8-1, 5-1), who overcame a brutal first-half monsoon of baffling miscues on offense to defeat regional rival Washington Huskies 26-16 on Saturday night in Seattle.
And for those watching at home, we all endured Robert Griffin III’s play-by-play, which was wobbly at best and sprinkled with bizarre expressions, such as replacing “momentum” with “Uncle Mo.”
So many questions, not enough time.
Early on, it appeared the Ducks were desperately searching for a way to lose to the Dawgs, a loss that would have sent them free-falling out of the top four of the College Football Playoff. (Fun Fact: The ESPN playoff predictor gives Oregon a 3% chance to make the CFP. Ouch. How soon they forget the Ducks’ HUGE road win over the Buckeyes.)
During the opening drive of the game, Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown threw an interception that was quickly returned 50 yards for a touchdown. For the next several series on offense, Brown looked spooked, making odd, head-slapping throws to players that too often weren’t anywhere near the ball or even looking in the general direction.
Two possessions later, the Ducks got pinned deep by a Washington punt and gave up a safety after failing to get out of the end zone. Phew. Brutal.
To be fair, Brown shook off the cobwebs and made some fantastic plays, one of which was a difficult 31-yard touchdown strike, thrown across his body, to Devon Williams giving the Ducks a much-needed boost in the second quarter. Brown completed 10 of 20 passes for 98 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown. While Brown’s passing stats were average, he found a way to win and that counts for a lot.
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The biggest difference-maker for the Ducks was Travis Dye, arguably the toughest player on the team. Dye, who played against UCLA with a migraine, had 28 carries for 211 yards (including a 45-yard sprint to setup Brown’s two-yard touchdown run) and a touchdown.
Dye finished with more rushing yards than the Huskies’ entire offense (167 total yards) and almost four-times as many rushing yards as the Dawgs’ backfield, led by hard-running senior Sean McGrew (48 yards and two touchdowns), which netted a whopping 55 total yards on the ground (Oregon finished with 329 total rushing yards). Over the past five games, Dye has racked up 770 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns (eight rushing TDs).
But it was Dye’s determination and toughness that were the most memorable aspects of his game — a clear driving force behind Oregon’s offense. Dye was a lightning rod and his spirit is contagious. There’s something special about that kid. Perhaps it’s the mustache?
The elephant in the room is Washington’s offense, which is clearly on the struggle bus, running what appears to be some type of 1940s T Formation led by quarterback Dylan Morris, who finished 10 of 27 passing for 111 yards and an interception but didn’t convert a first down until the second quarter.
Just like some Ducks fans demanding Ty Thompson to replace Brown, the Husky faithful are calling for five-star freshman Sam Huard to take the reins, hoping the change will breathe some life into Washington coach Jimmy Lake’s old-timey playbook and predictable offensive schemes.
The Dawgs (4-5, 3-3) completely derailed by the fourth quarter, despite scoring a touchdown to come back within eight points, 24-16. The cherry on top was Lake’s decision to punt on fourth down after which Washington’s long snapper hiked a missile over the punter’s head and through the back of the end zone for an Oregon safety. Purple rain slickers slowly filed out of the stadium in the pouring rain completely defeated.
There’s lots of talk about Oregon and the road to the CFP. It’s simple: Win. Good, bad or ugly. And once again, the Ducks figured out a way to win.
San Diego, California
Top Photo by Jerry Thompson
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Jordan is a lifelong Duck fan currently living in San Diego. Jordan graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, after serving a prestigious fellowship with the Washington State House of Representatives. Upon graduation, he worked as an English language teaching assistant for the Spanish Ministry of Education’s Ambassadorial Program in Monforte de Lemos, Spain. Jordan has worked as a journalist, writer, and editor in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and California, covering a wide range of topics, including sports, local politics, and crime. He is VERY excited to be writing about his beloved Oregon Ducks.
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