SEATTLE — The second-ranked Oregon Ducks survived a fierce challenge by Washington State in the opening half, then scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter of a 51-26 triumph late Saturday night at CenturyLink Field.
Oregon (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12 Conference) led only 23-19 at the half. De’Anthony Thomas’ 4-yard run capped a long Oregon scoring drive to start the second half, and teammate Avery Patterson tacked on six points when he halted WSU’s first possession of the half with a 34-yard interception return.
WSU’s annual “home” game in Seattle drew 60,929. Some WSU supporters had feared Ducks fans would make up a significant percentage of the crowd, but the vast majority of fans wore Cougars crimson on a pleasant evening.
The Cougars (2-3, 0-2) received a thunderous ovation when they headed to the locker room after a wildly entertaining first half. WSU, a 31-point underdog, matched the passionate play of the Ducks before the Cougars’ play fell off significantly in the second half for the fifth consecutive game.
In the third quarter, Thomas and Kenjon Barner sandwiched touchdown runs around a 34-yard TD interception return by Patterson. Barner, who scored on a run and a reception in the first quarter, ran for 195 yards on 20 carries and scored three touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota of Oregon completed 21 of 32 passes for 168 yards, one TD and two interceptions. WSU sophomore Connor Halliday, starting a third straight game since senior Jeff Tuel nursing a knee injury, overcame seven sacks to go 33 for 60 for 347 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
WSU junior Marquess Wilson caught 12 balls for 184 yards. He broke the school record of 2,756 career receiving yards, set by current St. Louis Rams wide receiver Brandon Gibson from 2005-08.
Oregon has won six consecutive games against WSU while scoring at least 43 points each game.