The No. 13 Oregon Ducks played one of the most absurd games of the day in college football, a 44-41 win on the road in Pullman, WA. against Washington State. The win was a classic Pac-12 game that would have no doubt fit under the “Pac-12 After Dark” mantra if it was played under the lights. It, at times, defined logic but had every fan on the edge of their seat throughout. Big plays, dramatic swings, and a jaw-dropping final quarter gave Duck fans much to enjoy during their first road win of the season.
Oregon scored 22 points in the game’s final four minutes to turn a game-long deficit until a massive conference opener road win. Here are the top three takeaways from the Ducks’ victory.
1. These Ducks Have Resolve
Now, this really shouldn’t be questioned. Oregon has already proven they can take a punch and get back up. After the Ducks’ opener against No. 1 Georgia went about as poorly as anyone could imagine, a 49-3 loss, Dan Lanning’s team has responded by scoring an average of 51.6 points per game in the next three. That includes wins against No. 12 BYU and, of course, the road win at Washington State. Consider this: Oregon didn’t take their first lead Saturday until over 58 minutes into the game. The Ducks threw a pick-six, gave up countless big plays in the passing game on defense, and faced a hostile WSU crowd. Yet, Oregon stayed poised and eventually pounced on the opportunity, stealing a conference road victory. Add all of that up, you will find a group worthy of praise. Don’t question the resolve.
2. The Pass Defense is a Work in Progress
WSU’s QB Cameron Ward didn’t have much trouble against Oregon for most of the game. Ward threw for 375 yards and exposed the Ducks’ secondary throughout. This indeed must be amended if UO wants to contend for a conference title seriously. It is important to note that WSU’s air raid offense is a unique challenge, but it isn’t the only time Oregon will see that type of offense this season. Two things stuck out, the 38-yard pass to De’Zhaun Stribling with nearly half of the Ducks defense glancing over to the sideline looking for a play call. The flub made it look like a video game glitch. Maybe the more worrisome stat from Saturday for the Ducks defense was the nearly 68% completion percentage on third downs. That will need to be reduced, no doubt.
3. No Letdowns in the Pac
Is the Pac-12 deep at the top? While it’s still September on the calendar, it’s safe to say that the conference hasn’t looked this strong at the top in at least the past five seasons, if not longer. No. 6 USC appears to be back at the top of the Pac, No. 12 Utah has regained form after their opening night loss at Florida, and No. 15 Washington is looking legit under first-year head coach Kalen DeBoer. So that makes four conference teams, counting No. 13 Oregon, inside the Top 15 of the AP Top 25. It means Oregon absolutely must win games they’re favored in. With three other top contenders, slip-up games will be even more devastating than in years past if the Ducks are to win another Pac-12 title.