Oregon quarterback Bo Nix walks off the field after the the No. 6 Oregon Ducks defeated the No. 16 Oregon State Beavers Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.

No. 5 Oregon takes aim at No. 3 Washington in Pac-12 title game

The final Pac-12 championship game has it all.

An undefeated team. Two top Heisman candidates. The nation’s best two passing attacks. A rematch of a regular-season thriller. A heated regional rivalry. And the winner essentially punches a ticket to the College Football Playoff.

No. 3 Washington (12-0) and No. 5 Oregon (11-1) — two programs headed to the Big Ten in 2024 — will meet Friday night in Las Vegas, where a spot in the CFP and the Heisman race could be decided in the Pac-12’s high-profile swan song.

And here’s one more twist: The Huskies, who won the regular-season meeting 36-33 at home on Oct. 14, were staggering 9.5-point underdogs early in the week.

The reason for that is mostly because the Ducks have surged to six consecutive wins, lead the nation in scoring differential (plus-29.33), and are one of three teams nationally in the top 10 in scoring (second, 45.3 points per game) and scoring defense (seventh, 15.9).

“We’ve got great energy,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said.

“I don’t think it’s really my job to necessarily temper the energy, but more so make sure that we maintain the focus on where it needs to be. And our guys have done a great job of that. They realize that energy doesn’t win games; execution does.”

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix has surpassed Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and LSU’s Jayden Daniels to be the new betting favorite for the Heisman. Nix is second to Daniels nationally in passing efficiency (189.8 rating) and has completed 315 of 401 passes for 3,906 yards with 37 touchdowns and two interceptions.

“He’s playing at an extremely high level and everybody’s seen it right now,” Lanning said. “He’s gotten better and better every single week of the season.”

Penix has slowed a bit since the first half of the season, but he checks in having completed 280 of 427 passes for 3,899 yards with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

With the Ducks steamrolling opponents, there is a sense the programs are on different trajectories, as the Huskies have won three consecutive one-possession games (Utah, at Oregon State, Washington State).

Washington coach Kalen DeBoer said Monday that his team is getting healthier now. That includes wide receiver Jalen McMillan, who caught his first passes in more than two months last week against the Cougars.

“Relative to where we were at in the middle of the season, I think we are healthier,” DeBoer said Monday. “The receiving corps is slowly coming back to being intact, and the offensive line is back to where it was at the beginning of the year. I think we are getting to a good spot when it comes to the health of the team.”

Penix threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns in the first meeting this season. Two wide receivers went more for than 100 yards — Rome Odunze (128) and Ja’Lynn Polk (118) — and now McMillan is back.

Nix had 337 passing yards and two touchdowns against Washington, and he tried to rally the Ducks after a touchdown pass to Odunze put the Huskies up with 1:38 left. Oregon reached the Washington 25 before trying a last-play 43-yard field goal that was no good.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) throws a touchdown pass with pressure from Arizona State Sun Devils defensive lineman B.J. Green II (35) in the first half at Mountain America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic

Bo Nix throws for career-high 6 TDs, No. 6 Oregon crushes Arizona State

Bo Nix passed for 404 yards and tied a school record with six touchdown passes in a little over two quarters and No. 6 Oregon rolled over Arizona State 49-13 in a Pac-12 matchup Saturday afternoon in Tempe, Ariz.

Nix completed 24 of 29 passes and matched the school-record of six TD throws shared by Joey Harrington, who did it twice, and Justin Herbert, Vernon Adams, Marcus Mariota, Darron Thomas, and Danny O’Neill. Nix’s bid for a seventh was negated by an offensive pass interference penalty in the end zone on the opening drive of the third quarter.

Ty Thompson then took over for Nix as the Ducks (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12) continued their march to the conference championship game Dec. 1 in Las Vegas. Thompson also threw a touchdown pass, giving the Ducks a team record-tying seven for the game.

Troy Franklin (eight catches, 128 yards) and Patrick Herbert (three, 78) had two touchdown receptions each, while Tez Johnson (six, 80), Gary Bryant Jr. (three, 82) and Casey Kelly (one, 19) each had one touchdown reception.

The Sun Devils (3-8, 2-6) scored on Dario Longhetto’s two second-half field goals and Melquan Stovall’s 15-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Trenton Bourguet was 20-of-37 passing for 142 yards for the Sun Devils, and Cam Skattebo and Jalin Conyers combined to go 5 of 10 for 63 yards. A 270-pound tight end, Conyers gave a brief life to the Sun Devils offense in the second quarter taking snaps in the wildcat formation and rushing six times for 34 yards to go with his 38 receiving yards.

The Ducks finished the game with 603 yards in total offense to 316 for the Sun Devils. The Ducks scored on each of their six drives in the first half, including one that started at their 2-yard line with just 1:06 left in the second quarter.

Herbert and Franklin each had two touchdown receptions in the first half while Bryant had a 71-yard touchdown catch-and-run and Johnson capped that late 98-yard drive with a 16-yard reception.

The Sun Devils wasted two scoring opportunities in the first half. Longhetto’s 43-yard field-goal attempt at the end of their first series was wide right, and Cole Martin intercepted Skattebo’s pass to end a late second-quarter threat.

–Field Level Media

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix celebrates after running for a touchdown as the Oregon Ducks host Colorado in the Pac-12 opener Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.

After big win, No. 9 Oregon takes unbeaten mark to Stanford

No. 9 Oregon will look to continue its unbeaten start to the season when it visits Stanford on Saturday afternoon in a Pac-12 Conference contest.

Oregon (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) is coming off an emphatic 42-6 win over then-No. 19 Colorado last weekend. The Ducks held a 35-0 lead at the half and never looked back.

“It was our most complete game that we’ve played to date,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said. “I think it showed what we’re capable of. I think we were really solid in all three phases, but we still walked away with a lot of things that we can certainly fix.

“I know we say that every single week, but it’s always true.”

The Ducks’ next challenge will come against Stanford (1-3, 0-2), which will try to bounce back after a hard-fought 21-20 home loss against Arizona a week ago. The Cardinal led 17-14 before giving up the lead midway through the fourth quarter.

It marked the third straight setback for Stanford since its season-opening win at Hawaii.

Stanford coach Troy Taylor has alternated between two quarterbacks this season, and he hinted that the trend would continue against Oregon.

Ashton Daniels has completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 534 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions for the Cardinal. Fellow signal-caller Justin Lamson has completed 46.3 percent of his passes for 307 yards and one interception to go along with a rushing touchdown.

“We’re trying to find somebody to emerge and give us a spark,” Taylor said. “We’re kind of feeling it out. Typically, I want to play one quarterback. (I’ve done it) probably 95 percent of my coaching career.

“It’s definitely not a tactic. It’s just one of those things, trying to find the best chance to get us to move the football, and still learning about them and how they react to certain things and what they do well.

“If somebody emerges, I’ll probably play one of them the majority of the time. But until then — until somebody emerges — I’ll probably play both of them.”

Oregon has no such quandary at quarterback. Senior standout Bo Nix has completed a career-best 79.4 percent of his passes for 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns with one pick.

Nix’s top target has been wideout Troy Franklin, who has 25 catches for 418 yards and five touchdowns. Bucky Irving leads the Oregon running backs with 305 rushing yards, and Jordan James tops the squad with six rushing touchdowns.

Stanford will try to slow down Nix and Co. with a pass rush that is led by linebacker David Bailey, who has four of the Cardinal’s eight sacks this season. Safety Scotty Edwards and cornerback Collin Wright have one interception apiece.

The Ducks’ defense features defensive end Jordan Burch, who leads the team with three sacks, and defensive back Khyree Jackson, who has two interceptions.

Last season, Oregon rolled to a 45-27 home win over Stanford.

“(They’re an) incredible team,” Taylor said. “Great speed. A lot of skill. They’re very dynamic offensively and defensively.

“It’s another great Pac-12 opponent and a great opportunity for us.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) signals to the sideline during the second half against the Portland State Vikings at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Hawaii hoping to contain Bo Nix and No. 13 Oregon

Bo Nix aims to continue his strong start to the season on Saturday when No. 13 Oregon hosts Hawaii in Eugene, Ore.

Nix has completed 77.5 percent of his passes for 646 yards and five touchdowns without an interception for the Ducks (2-0).

He earned his fourth career Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week award Monday, two days after throwing for 359 yards and two scores in Oregon’s 38-30 victory at Texas Tech. He also chipped in a team-leading 46 yards rushing on nine carries.

Nix engineered a 17-play scoring drive with four third-down conversions to bridge the third and fourth quarters. He also guided the Ducks to pair of field goals in the fourth before Jeffrey Bassa returned an interception for a touchdown to seal the win.

“You want to go get points, you want to go take the lead, obviously if you can, you want to limit them getting the ball back,” Nix said. “As an offense, we’re champing at the bit to get the ball back to go down and score with five minutes left in the game.”

Oregon coach Dan Lanning didn’t mince words while praising his quarterback.

“I love Bo. And it’s not about what he is as a player, it’s what that guy is as a person. We have an unbelievable quarterback right now on our team,” Lanning said. “That is an unbelievable leader, an unbelievable human and he’s a freaking ballplayer.

“Go pull up that film on Bo Nix and tell me he can’t win games. Watch what he did with his feet tonight. Good decision maker. Just really proud of him and glad he’s leading our team.”

Troy Franklin boosted his team-leading touchdown reception total to three with a 72-yard score in the first quarter. Tez Johnson reeled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Nix just over five minutes later.

“Like I always say, it was a dream. But I know there’s many more to come,” Johnson said after Tuesday’s practice. “Just gotta keep working in practice, and time will tell.”

Hawaii (1-2) answered a pair of losses to open the season with a 31-20 victory over FCS foe Albany last Saturday. That said, Rainbow Warriors coach Timmy Chang knows his team has its work cut out against Oregon.

“They’re a good opponent. They are gonna compete for a Pac-12 championship, and in their minds they are a CFP team — it’s gonna be tough. It’s a tough game,” Chang said. “So we have to get healed up, we have to get ready to go. We have to have a tough mindset. It’s a good, good experience and mindset and mentality to get ready for this (weekend).”

Brayden Schager threw for 266 yards with a career-high four touchdowns and three interceptions against the Great Danes.

Steven McBride capped a two-touchdown performance by reeling in a 12-yard scoring strike with 3:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. He has found the end zone in each game this season and has a team-high five touchdown receptions.

Running back Jordan Johnson made his season debut and rushed for a team-high 76 yards. That total leads the team through three games.

–Field Level Media

Oregon's quarterback Bo Nix (10) warms up before the game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, at Jones AT&T Stadium.

No. 13 Oregon uses late surge to hold off Texas Tech

Camden Lewis made a 34-yard field goal with 1:10 remaining, linebacker Jeffrey Bassa added a pick-six with 35 seconds to go, and No. 13 Oregon escaped with a 38-30 win over host Texas Tech on Saturday night in Lubbock, Texas.

Oregon (2-0) trailed 27-18 entering the fourth quarter before outscoring the Red Raiders 20-3 in the final session. Bassa capped the scoring with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown to erase Texas Tech’s comeback hopes.

Tyler Shough passed for three touchdowns and rushed for one more for Texas Tech (0-2). The Red Raiders moved the ball to the Oregon 33-yard line with eight seconds left in a desperate attempt to force overtime, but Shough’s final heave was intercepted by Bryan Addison as time expired.

Shough finished 24 of 40 for 282 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed 23 times for 101 yards and a score.

The Ducks held off a hard challenge on the road one week after they set a modern school record with 81 points in their season opener against Portland State. This matchup was much less lopsided, but quarterback Bo Nix did his part to guide the Ducks by completing 32 of 44 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns.

Oregon led 18-13 at halftime thanks in large part to a 72-yard touchdown pass from Nix to Troy Franklin and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Nix to Tez Johnson. Franklin ended up leading the team with six catches for 103 yards and a score.

Texas Tech stormed back with 14 consecutive points in the third quarter to go ahead 27-18. Shough scored the first touchdown of the quarter on a 5-yard quarterback keeper, and he used his arm for the second touchdown as he found Jerand Bradley down the right sideline for a 34-yard score.

A 3-yard rushing touchdown by Bucky Irving cut Oregon’s deficit to 27-25 with 14:47 remaining in the fourth quarter. Lewis added a 23-yard field goal on the next possession to give the Ducks a 28-27 edge.

Texas Tech responded with a 12-play, 48-yard drive capped by a 45-yard field goal from Gino Garcia with 5:13 to play. That put the Red Raiders on top 30-28.

The lead stood until the Ducks’ final barrage of 10 points in the final 70 seconds.

–Field Level Media