No. 6 Oregon falls in thriller as Michael Penix outduels Bo Nix

It was a Hollywood script gone north.

The star quarterback suffers a setback, but still finds a way to put his team in position for the game-winner against an archrival. No. 6 Oregon and fellow Heisman Trophy candidate Bo Nix were ready to see a moment like this at Autzen Stadium.

The problem for the Ducks?

They were No. 25 Washington and Michael Penix Jr. who put pen to paper and put it all into action Saturday night, but ended their rivals’ hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff with a 37-34 rout in the game. process in Eugene.

Highlights: No. 25 Washington upsets No. 6 Oregon

Highlights: No. 25 Washington upsets No. 6 Oregon

Michael Penix Jr. outlasted Bo Nix as Washington took down Oregon.

Nix, who threw for 280 yards and accounted for three total touchdowns, was excellent most of the game but missed a critical third-down tie with 4:04 left in the quarter and things hanging in the balance in the balance To make matters worse, he took a helmet right into his right leg and needed help to gingerly step off the turf.

This was just the opening that Penix Jr. and the Huskies needed, and took full advantage of it. Just three plays into the next drive, the Indiana transfer uncorked a beautiful bullet down the sideline right into the hands of sophomore Taj Davis, who took it 62 yards to what would be his only capture of the contest (and a memorable one). in that) which tied things at 34 each.

The Ducks still had a shot, but Nix was still in the injury tent dealing with his leg injury. Running back Ty Thompson, a former top recruit, trotted onto the field, stepping into a big moment with national implications on the line. The redshirt freshman’s lone pass attempt fumbled on the drive and he ended up with a fourth-and-short at his own 34-yard line.

First-year coach Dan Lanning, who has been aggressive all season, opted to do so after picking up three previous short-yardage attempts on fourth down. That was with Nix in the game, though, using the senior’s size and bruising power to get over the line on all of them.

Instead, it was all back Noah Whittington (108 yards, one TD on 20 attempts), who was given the ball on a run up the middle of the shotgun but saw his legs slide below him to turn things around. .

“It’s certainly not the result we were hoping for,” Lanning said afterward. “This game goes to me 100 percent. Our players gave a phenomenal effort.”

Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell eventually ended Washington’s ensuing drive in favorable field position, but Peyton Henry’s 43-yard field goal sailed through the uprights for what was ultimately the game-winner. game

“We’re just a team that always comes back and keeps fighting,” Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer said after the game. “It showed for four quarters.”

Penix, who threw a costly goal-line interception early in the fourth quarter, finished with 408 yards and two touchdowns through the air, the most a Huskies QB had ever thrown against their rivals in green and yellow.

“It’s not like him to throw that interception,” added a smiling DeBoer, given that Penix would eventually get the team down three plays on their next drive.

The upset ended Oregon’s 23-game winning streak at Autzen, which was the third-longest in the nation and began with a win over a ranked Washington team in 2019. The Ducks had dominated the rivalry recently with 15 wins on the season. after 17 games, but he couldn’t get the job done in the first meeting between the two new coaches on both sides.

The loss also ensures Oregon’s College Football Playoff hopes are out the window given the rest of the competition for the bottom four spots nationally. Oregon can still win the Pac-12 and make it to the Rose Bowl in January, but will have to beat No. 13 Utah at home next week, Oregon State in Corvallis, and then the winner of the upcoming USC-UCLA game. next week, appropriately in Pasadena.

Land of Lanning

While some first-time head coaches might become a little more conservative as the pressure mounts against a bitter rival, that was not the case for Lanning. The Ducks’ big man remained as aggressive as ever Saturday night, belying the fact that his team was playing against a ranked opponent or was on an eight-game winning streak that helped them also harbor tangible College Football aspirations Playoff.

Just like he did in a big win over UCLA in Autzen last month, Lanning went for a surprise kick in the first half. The attempt, which was not successful, then led to points on the other side, but it must be admired that the circumstances did not alter the decision-making process.

Some of Lanning’s thoughts had to be the lack of defensive stops that either side was able to make early in the game, while noting that the Huskies weren’t exactly making a special allowance for the ability and holding a man down. extra return forward with an eye on the kicker.

Antagonistic thinking wasn’t limited to the beginning of units either. As time wound down in the second quarter and Oregon drove around midfield, Lanning called a timeout on fourth-and-2 with 31 seconds left. With Washington having plenty of time to work with and the nation’s best passing offense, it was certainly a gamble to go for it and not punt given the field position advantage going the other way.

Still, there was little hesitation as the offense stayed on the field and Nix went up the middle with a keeper to barely grab the first down. Not many would have had the goods to go to such a place, but Lanning sure did. The Ducks ended up making a field goal attempt out of the affair, and while it missed, at least some momentum in what must have been a heated locker room.

Still, the drive to get those spots came back to bite UO in the fourth quarter, as Whittinghton’s fumble in his own territory nearly gave the Huskies a field goal attempt in a game-tying and what turned out to be the winning points.

go fight

Best catch of the night? Maybe it wasn’t even a catch.

Right after Oregon’s punt attempt before halftime, Washington coach Kalen DeBoer did what many coaches would do in such a situation around midfield: throw a big play. Action offside, Penix fired a bullet through the dot markers that was headed for Jalen McMillan. The receiver finished him off, but not before Christian Gonzalez nearly scooped him up for a wild interception and one of the game’s most notable plays.

The Huskies quickly ran to the line to run a play and prevent the replay from making a longer look, but it’s not often you see a wideout literally fight a defensive back to secure a catch. The big 34-yard gain later led to a UW field goal that turned out to be the eventual three-point margin the team took into the locker room at halftime.

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Bryan Fischer is a college football writer for FOX Sports. He has been covering college athletics for nearly two decades at outlets including NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and among others. Follow him on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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