Justin Herbert, Oregon Sneak by Jake Browning, Washington to Win 30-27 in OT

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2018

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 13:  Quarterback Justin Herbert #10 of the Oregon Ducks scrambles against defensive lineman Greg Gaines #99 of the Washington Huskies in the first half of the game at Autzen Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The No. 17 Oregon Ducks upset the No. 7 Washington Huskies 30-27 in overtime at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday.

Washington redshirt freshman kicker Peyton Henry missed a 37-yard field goal on the final play of regulation, which allowed Oregon running back CJ Verdell to win it with a six-yard touchdown run in overtime.

Oregon improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in conference play, while the Huskies are 5-2 and 3-1 in the Pac-12.

Much of the pregame focus was on the starting quarterbacks, but they turned in modest performances.

Oregon's Justin Herbert finished 18-of-32 for 202 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, while Washington's Jake Browning threw for 243 yards with one touchdown and one pick on 15-of-25 passing.

The Ducks and Huskies primarily used their quality running back tandems to establish the ground game.

For Oregon, Verdell rushed for 111 yards and two scores, and Travis Dye added 67 yards.

Washington starting running back Myles Gaskin missed some time in the second quarter with an apparent shoulder injury. He returned but did not play for much of the fourth quarter or overtime and finished with 69 rushing yards.

Salvon Ahmed rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns, but he suffered a leg injury in the fourth quarter. Ahmed returned as well; however, he was used sparingly down the stretch.

With both Gaskin and Ahmed hurting late in the game, Washington could muster only a field goal on its overtime possession, which opened the door for Oregon to win it.

New Offensive Identity Makes Oregon Team to Beat in Pac-12

Oregon has long been known for its fast-paced offense predicated on speed, and while elements of that still remain, the Ducks primarily beat the Huskies by winning the battle in the trenches.

Despite having a quarterback in Herbert who is considered a likely first-round pick in the NFL draft, Oregon pounded the rock throughout the game and finished with 49 attempts.

As a former offensive lineman and offensive line coach, Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal favors a physical style of play.

Dale Newton of Duck Stops Here noted that Cristobal has transformed the Ducks into a team capable of hanging with anyone in the Pac-12 in that department:

Brandon Sprague of 1080 The Game agreed and marveled at how far Oregon has come in that department over the past two seasons:

Provided Oregon continues to commit to the power running game, it will make Herbert even more effective down the stretch.

Although he didn't put up eye-popping numbers, Herbert did enough against a Washington defense that is considered one of the best in the nation.

In the first quarter, he got some help from No. 1 wide receiver Dillon Mitchell on a 12-yard touchdown catch, juke and run:

Mitchell turned in his third consecutive spectacular performance with eight grabs for 119 yards and that score.

Herbert later showed off his athleticism and strong arm with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jaylon Redd in the second quarter:

Several NFL teams had representatives on hand to scout for the NFL draft, and Denver Broncos general manager John Elway was among those in attendance.

John Canzano of The Oregonian noted that Elway seemed to like what he saw out of Herbert:

Herbert showed flashes of the player who can single-handedly win games for the Ducks, but the evolution of the offense means he no longer has to.

Oregon now has ideal balance on the offensive side of the ball, and there isn't another team in the Pac-12 that can match it in that regard.

                          

Browning Will Be Washington's Achilles' Heel for Remainder of Season

Several factors contributed to Washington suffering its second loss of the season, but the play of Browning was among the biggest reasons.

Although Browning did get the Huskies in position to win the game late in the fourth quarter, he made several glaring mistakes that could have been avoided.

On his first pass of the game, Browning was intercepted by cornerback Deommodore Lenoir, which allowed Oregon to get on the board first with a field goal.

Former NFL offensive lineman and current SiriusXM NFL analyst Geoff Schwartz is among those who believe Browning should be more polished given his experience:

There are times when Browning looks the part of a top-tier quarterback, and that was the case in the third quarter.

With Washington trailing 24-17, Browning escaped the pressure and threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Ty Jones:

Browning then looked poised at times on the final drive of regulation, as he converted a 4th-and-3 in Oregon territory with a four-yard pass to running back Sean McGrew.

After the deflating missed field goal by Henry, Washington moved the ball quickly down the field on the ground in overtime.

The Huskies had to settle for a field goal despite having a 1st-and-goal from the Oregon 6-yard line, though, after Browning missed a potential touchdown pass to Jones.

Washington has a strong stable of running backs when healthy and a quality defense, but given Browning's inconsistency, it is poised to miss out on the Pac-12 title game.

                           

Oregon Will Run the Table to Win Pac-12

Things looked bleak for Oregon after blowing a big lead and losing to Stanford a couple of weeks ago, but it is now in good position to win the Pac-12.

According to Ashley Adamson of Pac-12 Network, the Ducks are off to their best start in four years:

They hold the tiebreaker over Washington, meaning their biggest concern is whether Stanford can win out.

Since the Cardinal have one loss in conference play, the Ducks only need them to lose one more game in order to control their own destiny.

Considering Stanford still has to face Washington on the road, the odds seem to be in favor of Oregon winning the Pac-12 North.

Provided Oregon can beat Washington State on the road next week, it has a fairly easy path the rest of the way.

Given how potent the Ducks offense is and how much the defense has improved this season, the pieces are in place for Oregon to win the Pac-12 and potentially get in the College Football Playoff conversation depending on how the other contenders fare.

                          

What's Next?

Both Oregon and Washington have difficult matchups on tap next week.

The Ducks will travel to face the 5-1 Washington State Cougars on Oct. 20, while the Huskies will host the No. 19 Colorado Buffaloes, who were undefeated entering play Saturday.

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