5 Takeaways from Oregon Ducks’ Devastating 34-31 Loss to Washington Huskies in the Pac-12 Title Game
If you want to know about devastation, then you just have to ask a Ducks fan what happened the day of December 1st, 2023.
That’s right, the Pac-12 title game has finally come and gone, and it’s the Huskies who have come out as the champions of the Pac-12, winning by only 3 points.
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The Washington Huskies were the only team the Ducks had faced who had kept them from that perfect 12 streak win, so everyone had been watching with bated breath as the game progressed. Sure enough, though, the Ducks were unable to avenge their first loss, leaving them as the runner-ups for a game that everyone will remember for years to come.
As the Huskies embed themselves into the college football history books we have to ask: what happened? Well I’ll give you the rundown in the form of 5 key takeaways that really sealed the deal for both teams.
An Unfortunate Start for the Ducks
The poor start for the Ducks was no doubt the biggest killer. How you start a game is vital to how the game will end. It’s all about momentum, and for the Ducks, it was seriously lacking in the beginning.
The first quarter was hard, falling behind 10-0 in that first quarter alone, with a 20-3 deficit in the second. By the time they were heading into the break, they were at . It felt similar to the blowout games that Oregon would win earlier in the season, leaving their opponents in the dust early on. Now they were on the other end, and while they soon quickly closed the gap in the coming quarters, it wasn’t enough. I have every belief that if the Ducks hadn’t fumbled those first two quarters, they would have had that game in the bag.
The Ducks Weren’t Playing with a Full Deck
The Ducks have had a healthy streak this entire time. And yet, on the day where it counts the most, we have a plethora of Ducks with injuries and ailments. Tysheem Johnson, Jeffrey Bassa, Kyhree Johnson, Jordan Burch, Jordan Franklin, and Jahil Florence all missed parts of the game. These were all key players that fell to ailments or injuries, and it was absolutely devastating for the Ducks. Talk about bad timing. Yes, winning the game is still absolutely possible, as the game wouldn’t have been so close if that wasn’t the case. In the end, though, these losses certainly hindered them.
What They Were Up Against
This loss can’t be chalked up to just the Ducks fumbling on and off throughout the game. The Huskies are a great team; they wouldn’t be in the Pac-12 if they weren’t. Michael Penix really stood out during these plays, making right call after right call. Washington was really on their game this time around, especially when it came to passing. Balls shot through impossibly tight windows and most passes connected with ease. Penix finished with 319 yards on 27-for-39 passing, and you have to give it up for players Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze.
Bo Nix was Off His Game
Even from the very start of the game, it felt like Nix was really off, completing only 1 out of 5 of his passes. His passing game was surprisingly inaccurate despite a fairly flawless record, going 21-for-34, bringing his completion percentage from 78.6% to 77.2%. It’s harrowing, because Nix had been on track to break Mac Jones’ single-season completion record of 77.4%. While Nix eventually regained momentum, he always seemed to be lacking this time around, something that definitely hurt the Ducks’ chances.
The 3rd Downs
One of Oregon’s biggest flaws with the last game against Washington was its execution on the fourth down, going 0-for-3 in critical moments.
We thought this had improved on Friday, as they went for 2-for-2 on fourth down, both of them during a second-half touchdown drive that made it a one-score game.
On the third down, however, things began to fumble. They were just 3-for-10 in that game, despite the third down being a point of excellence with the Ducks the entire season. This was just one of the many reasons why the Ducks fell behind by just 3 points.