No. 6 Oregon rolls past Washington 34-17
SEATTLE—For the second straight week it took Oregon a half to get rolling.
Once the sixth-ranked Ducks did, they overwhelmed Washington for the eighth straight time.
Now it's safe. Everyone can look ahead to next week's showdown at No. 4 Stanford.
Oregon's LaMichael James ran for 156 yards and a touchdown, and the Ducks forced three key turnovers for a 34-17 win over Washington on Saturday night, extending the longest win streak in the rivalry with their foes to the north.
On a night filled with Washington nostalgia as the school honored the 1991 co-national championship team and said goodbye to Husky Stadium in its current incarnation before a $250 million renovation, the Ducks (8-1, 6-0) quacked the party.
Eddie Pleasant picked off Washington quarterback Keith Price twice in the first half and Terrance Mitchell stripped tight end Michael Hartvigson late in the third quarter. The Ducks converted the three turnovers into 14 points.
A week after he was benched at halftime, Darron Thomas threw for 169 yards and a 4-yard touchdown to tight end David Paulson. Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas both added second-half TD runs for the Ducks.
Thomas' only mistake came in the first half when a pass attempt slipped out of his hand for a fumble and led to a Washington field goal. And while he sometimes was wildly off target, Thomas made the key throws when he needed to. He was 13 of 25 passing.
Perhaps no throw was bigger for Thomas than converting a third-and-9 early in the third quarter immediately after Washington had scored to pull within 24-17. Washington brought a blitz that was picked up and allowed Thomas time to find Paulson over the middle for a 34-yard gain and quiet Washington's largest home crowd of the season that had the 91-year-old stadium swaying again.
The pass led to a De'Anthony Thomas touchdown run and the Ducks' lead was comfortably back to two scores.
Now it's safe to look forward to next Saturday's matchup at Stanford that will likely decide the Pac-12 North champion and presumed host for the first Pac-12 title game.
Meanwhile, Washington lost for the third time this season to a Top 15 program, although this won didn't bring the accompanying embarrassment that the Huskies 65-21 defeat at Stanford did when the Cardinal ran for 446 yards.
Washington failed to get star running back Chris Polk going regularly. A week after he bulldozed through Arizona for 144 yards rushing, 100 yards receiving and five total touchdowns, Polk was kept out of the end zone and every yard he gained was earned. Polk finished with 80 yards on 24 carries and had six catches for 31 yards.
Price was beat up by the Ducks defense and threw for only 143 yards despite completing 24 of 35 passes. Price was briefly shaken up on a sack with 7:49 left when he was hit from behind by Oregon's Dion Jordan, the sixth time Price was sacked in the game. He walked off under his own power and returned one play later after backup Nick Montana hit Williams on a 53-yard pass, only to see Kevin Smith drop a touchdown pass with 7:09 left.
The six sacks and Polk's inability to get going was part of an impressive night for Oregon's defense that was giving up nearly 400 yards per game. They held the Huskies to 278 yards, only the second time this season Washington was held under 400 yards.
For the second straight week, Oregon's first half was sluggish at best. They led only 15-10 a week ago at home to Washington State and held just a 17-10 advantage on the Huskies Saturday night with most of the momentum in the favor of Washington after Price hit Hartvigson on a 1-yard TD pass with 30 seconds left in the half.
But Oregon barely saw the ball in the first 30 minutes. They ran just 22 offensive plays for 134 yards and had less than 7 minutes of possession.
The third quarter was the complete opposite.
Oregon gained 194 yards and ran 28 plays in the third quarter alone. They got a 1-yard TD plunge from Barner on the opening drive of the second half -- a 12-play march that took less than three minutes. Washington answered with freshman Kasen Williams making an impressive toe-drag TD catch to get the Huskies back within seven.
But Thomas found Paulson on Oregon's biggest third-down conversion and three plays later Thomas was pitching to De'Anthony Thomas on the option for a 6-yard TD run and the lead back to 14.