No. 7 Oregon avoids stumble, rallies to top Washington 26-16

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SEATTLE — Travis Dye rushed for a career-high 211 yards and a touchdown, Anthony Brown ran for a score and passed for another and No. 7 Oregon overcame a sluggish start to beat Washington 26-16 on Saturday night.

A year after the border rivals didn’t play due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Huskies program, the Ducks (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) fell behind early before running off 21 consecutive points and beat Washington for the seventh time in the past eight games played in Seattle.

Brown threw a 31-yard TD pass to Devon Williams late in the first half to take a 10-9 lead at the break and scored on a 2-yard run early in the third quarter. Dye appeared to provide the capper when he rumbled 19 yards for a score on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Ducks a 24-9 lead.

Washington’s languishing offense that had done nothing all night suddenly went the length of the field and pulled to 24-16 with 11:13 remaining on Sean McGrew‘s second TD run.

Oregon was able to grind nearly nine minutes off the clock even though they didn’t score. The drive was helped by a long run from Dye and Brown hitting Johnny Johnson III for 13 yards on a third-and-10. It was Johnson’s only catch after he was suspended for the first half following a targeting ejection last week.

Washington (4-5, 3-3) got the ball back with 2:14 left and 90 yards to go but had two dropped passes, an incompletion and when coach Jimmy Lake opted to punt the snap went over Race Porter’s head for a safety.

On a miserable, chilly night with breezes blowing off Lake Washington and unrelenting, heavy rain pelting the field, players and fans, the Ducks avoided the kind of stumble that befell Michigan State earlier in the day and should give Oregon the chance of moving up in the College Football Playoff rankings. Oregon was No. 4 in the first rankings and remained in control of the Pac-12 North.

Washington had won two straight on the road, but its offensive deficiencies led to several missed chances to create a cushion after taking a 9-3 lead.

Carson Bruener intercepted Brown’s pass on Oregon’s opening drive and returned it 50 yards to the 7. In less than three minutes Washington had a 7-0 lead after McGrew scored on a 1-yard run and the Huskies added a safety shortly after for a 9-3 lead.

But Washington failed to extend the lead. Washington punted twice on fourth-and-short near midfield. Morris was intercepted in Oregon territory trying to force a pass into triple coverage. And McGrew was stopped on a fourth-and-1 run at the Oregon 23 late in the second quarter.

THE TAKEAWAY

Oregon: The Ducks finished with 329 yards rushing, the second time a team rushed for at least 300 yards against the Huskies. That had happened only once in the previous seven seasons against the Huskies. Brown added 63 yards rushing and Byron Cardwell had 55 yards.

Washington: Some type of change needs to be made to Washington’s offense. They had no first downs in the first quarter, and went three-and-out six times. The conditions were awful ,but the lack of potency and consistency from the offense has been a problem all year and has left the Huskies in the position of needing to win two of its last three games to become bowl eligible.

UP NEXT

Oregon: Hosts Washington State next Saturday.

Washington: Hosts Arizona State next Saturday.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.