SEATTLE — Travis Dye rushed for 211 yards while Oregon’s defense held Washington to 166 yards of total offense as the No. 4 Ducks beat the Huskies in cold, wet conditions on the road Saturday evening, 26-16.
After the Ducks dug themselves an early hole due to an interception and a safety, they leaned on Dye and the running game along with a suffocating defense that allowed just seven first downs. Anthony Brown put the early interception behind him with one touchdown each on the ground and through the air, while Noah Sewell paced the defensive effort with 10 tackles.
On a day when ranked teams from Michigan State, Wake Forest, Baylor, Auburn and Mississippi State all lost on the road, the Ducks (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) proved their mettle in a tight game yet again this season and remained on track for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
“Rivalry games are hard enough as it is, and especially in November,” UO coach Mario Cristobal said. “And then to have a rivalry game on the road, it’s reflected across the country how hard it is.”
The game began in dubious fashion for the Ducks. Brown was intercepted on Oregon’s opening possession, and a long return set up Washington for a one-yard rushing touchdown. After Camden Lewis got the Ducks on the board with a 46-yard field goal into the wind blowing in off Lake Washington, a breakdown by the UO punt return team led to a safety that made it 9-3.
The passing game clicked for Oregon midway through the second quarter, with Brown opening a UO possession with a 22-yard completion to Jaylon Redd and capping it with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Devon Williams, who has scored in back-to-back games. That gave the Ducks a 10-9 lead at halftime.
“Without a doubt, we were really having a tough time finding our way on offense early,” Cristobal said. “It was raining sideways, just about. The passing game, we had to be smart, had to limit what we were doing. And the defense, it felt like it was three-and-out, or four or five plays and out, consistently.”
Oregon’s defense forced a three-and-out to open the second half, with freshman linebacker Jeffrey Bassa recording a sack. Dye then ran the ball on five straights plays, totaling 68 yards, to set up a two-yard rushing touchdown by Brown. Dye scored himself on the opening play of the fourth quarter, a 19-yard scamper that gave Oregon a 24-9 lead.
“He’s a game changer,” Cristobal said of Dye. “And he changed it in a lot of different ways.”
Washington’s offense finally found some life after that score, driving 75 yards — almost half the Huskies’ total yardage in the game — to get within 24-16. The ensuing UO drive reached the 1-yard line before being backed up by penalties, but the defense came up big again and forced a UW punt, on which the snap sailed out of the end zone for a safety that made it 26-16.
Oregon appeared to score on a rush by Byron Cardwell in the waning seconds of the game. A replay review ruled him short of the goal line, and time expired for the Ducks’ third straight win over Washington, and 15th in the last 17 meetings between the two.
Along with Sewell and Bassa, Oregon’s defensive effort was led by safety Jordan Happle, who recorded an interception despite wearing a padded club to protect the hand injury that sidelined him for the Ducks’ win over Colorado. Center Alex Forsyth also returned from an injury, one that had sidelined him for the previous four games, and his presence was particularly welcome late in Saturday’s game after Ryan Walk was sidelined by an injury that had him on crutches in the fourth quarter.