Posted by Chip Patterson
OREGON WON. After entering halftime with a 15-10 lead, Oregon's offense took off under the leadership of Brian Bennett as the Ducks pulled away with a 43-28 win over Washington State. The Cougars got inspired play from their own backup quarterback, Marshall Lobbestael, who threw for 337 yards on the Oregon defense. But despite Washington State's best effort on the road, the Ducks were too much to handle in the Pac-12 North matchup on Saturday afternoon.
HOW OREGON WON: The big news heading into the game was the return of Darron Thomas and LaMichael James in the Oregon backfield. Thomas was replaced by Brian Bennett in the second half after throwing two interceptions, and James never really hit his rhythm on the ground. Instead it was the play of Kenjon Barner, Lavasier Tuinei, and De'Anthony Thomas in the second half that helped Oregon pull away from a feisty Washington State squad.
WHEN OREGON WON: Near the end of the third quarter, Washington State finished off an impressive seven play, 70 yard drive with a 24 yard touchdown pass from Lobbestael to Jared Karstetter. The score cut Oregon's lead to 29-20 and the Cougars seemed poised to give the Ducks a scare. But few things will deflate an underdog like a big special teams play, and when De'Anthony Thomas took the ensuing kickoff right back for an Oregon touchdown the Ducks assumed control for the rest of the game.
WHAT OREGON WON: If Darron Thomas and LaMichael James were going to be rusty in their first appearance back on the field, at least it was against Washington State. Oregon's case as "the best one-loss team" was not helped with their lackluster performance at home, but at least the rough transition did not cost the Ducks a victory. The story of Oregon's season will be written in the coming weeks, with Washington, Stanford, and USC ahead on the schedule. At least head coach Chip Kelly was able to give Thomas and James a test-run before these must-win conference battles.
WHAT WASHINGTON STATE LOST: A chance for a historic win. For Washington State to beat Oregon in Autzen - with a backup quarterback, no less - would have been tremendous for the program. Unfortunately, head coach Paul Wulff has to try and spin this one into yet another "moral victory."
THAT WAS CRAZY: The first half was just odd, with Darron Thomas struggling to get settled against Washington State's defense and the Ducks failing to produce more than one offensive touchdown. The defense also did not look as aggressive as usual, allowing the Cougars to dictate the pace offensively. You could chalk the performance up to "coming out flat," but it is definitely reason for Oregon fans to be concerned with huge games in the weeks ahead.
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