Oregon’s College Football Playoff hopes went up in flames on Saturday night at the hands of Washington in a heartbreaking 37-34 loss.
And because of a very questionable decision by the Oregon coaching staff.
With the game tied at 34-34 with 1:30 left in regulation, the Ducks decided to for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 34-yard line. Ty Thompson was in the game at quarterback for the Ducks after Bo Nix exited with an apparent ankle injury.
With the backup in, Oregon ran the ball four straight times. The fourth of those runs went for a loss of one, resulting in a costly turnover on downs.
OH MY 😳— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 13, 2022
Ball back with @UW_Football 🤯 pic.twitter.com/gnosx2t6aS
That decision and failed fourth-down try gave Washington the ball in Oregon territory. The Huskies gained only eight yards, but that was enough for Peyton Henry to drill a 43-yard field goal.
It proved to be the game-winner.
👏 @UW_Football takes the lead off a field goal with 51 seconds to go pic.twitter.com/yyJjJhlWZb— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 13, 2022
The game was low-scoring in the first half, but it turned into the back-and-forth shootout we all expected in the second half with Nix and Washington’s Michael Penix going blow for blow.
Washington took a 13-10 lead into halftime before the teams traded five touchdowns to open the third quarter. At that point, following a 67-yard bomb from Nix to Troy Franklin, Oregon had taken a 31-27 lead with 3:40 to go in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff, Washington’s Cameron Davis inadvertently touched his knee down at his own 1-yard line. That meant the Huskies would have to march 99 yards to go back in front.
Washington made it 98 yards instead. It took 10 plays for Washington to advance all the way to Oregon’s 1-yard line when Penix made a mistake. On a first-and-goal play, the lefthanded quarterback rolled to his right and looked for somewhere to throw. With Oregon defenders closing in a hurry, it looked like Penix would simply throw the ball away and live for another down.
Instead, he forced one into traffic and was intercepted.
DUCKS PICK IT OFF IN THE RED ZONE 🦆💪@oregonfootball pic.twitter.com/PRK2Wjq9Ne— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 13, 2022
At the time, it looked like that decision from Penix would doom the Huskies.
Oregon’s ensuing possession began at its own 1-yard line with 14:27 remaining. The Ducks turned to their running back duo of Bucky Irving and Noah Whittington, and they plowed their way down the field.
The Ducks made it all the way to the Washington 10-yard line and dialed up a quarterback draw for Nix on a third-and-5 play. Nix, one of the best running quarterbacks in the country, was hit hard after a two-yard gain.
Not only was Nix short of the line to gain, he was injured on the play. While Nix hobbled off to the injury tent, Oregon’s Camden Lewis hit a 26-yard field goal to extend the lead to 34-27 with 3:54 to play.
It was a drive that lasted more than 10 minutes for Oregon. Washington would need just 47 seconds to tie the score.
On third-and-7, Penix made an unbelievable throw to hit Taj Davis in stride for a 62-yard touchdown.
TIE GAME 😅— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 13, 2022
Taj Davis to the house for @UW_Football 🏡 pic.twitter.com/NRjXSyq4Gh
Washington scored so quickly that Nix wasn’t ready to return to the field. That put Thompson, a redshirt freshman, into the game in a high-pressure spot for the Ducks.
With Nix out, Oregon’s coaches leaned on the running game once again. This time, Washington was ready and got that critical fourth down stop that opened the door for Henry’s winning kick.