Taj Griffin

Associated Press

Depleted Oregon hanging tough with No. 11 Washington State

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Oregon is playing without its top two quarterbacks but not backing down, trailing Washington State 13-10 at the half in Eugene.

Oregon turned the ball over on downs in its own territory to open the game, and Washington State immediately capitalized with a 41-yard scoring strike from Luke Falk to Jamal Morrow.

The Ducks, though, rallied to take the lead with a 20-yard Aidan Schneider field goal and a 30-yard touchdown toss from third-stringer Braxton Burmeister to Jacob Breeland

Washington State regained the lead on a pair of Erik Powell field goals, a 25-yarder at the 11:54 mark of the second quarter and a 52-yard blast with 6:59 to play.

Oregon advanced the ball to the Wazzu 34 after falling behind 13-10, but Taj Griffin‘s 4th-and-1 run was short of the line to gain.

After starting hot, Falk completed the half hitting 14-of-22 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown, or 109 on 21 attempts after his first throw. Washington State hasn’t tried to run the ball, amassing 44 yards on 10 carries.

Burmeister is 9-of-14 for 59 yards and a touchdown with six carries for 24 yards. Royce Freeman leads all runners with 54 yards on eight totes.

Washington State will receive to open the second half.

Mike Riley picks up long-awaited win vs. No. 22 Oregon as Nebraska hangs on

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Nebraska head coach Mike Riley had a seven-game losing streak against Oregon dating back to his years as head coach of Oregon State. So when Nebraska brought down No. 22 Oregon quarterback Dakota Prukop on fourth down and saw the final seconds tick away off the clock, there was a reason to celebrate with a Gatorade shower for Riley. Nebraska (3-0) held on for a 35-32 victory over the Pac-12’s Ducks and enter Big Ten play with momentum that eluded them a year ago.

Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong ran 34 yards for a touchdown with 2:29 to play, giving the Cornhuskers a 35-32 lead. Oregon once led the game, 20-7, and was unable to hold Nebraska down in the second half.

This one will not be fun to review for new Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke, who made his return to a Big Ten stadium for the first time since being fired by Michigan two years ago. Nebraska had 228 rushing yards, with Armstrong leading the way with 96 rushing yards and a touchdown and Devine Ozigbo nearly equaling him with 94 yards and a touchdown. Terrell Newby chipped in with 42 rushing yards as well. Armstrong’s passing effort helped lead the way too with 200 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

Oregon’s offense took an early hit in the first half with running back Royce Freeman going down with a leg injury. He did not return, leading the Ducks to look to Prukop, Taj Griffin and Kani Benoit to take care of the ground attack. It was effective with 327 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Oregon’s unique decisions to go for two-point conversions came back to haunt them, perhaps. Oregon attempted five two-point conversions and converted on just the first one in the game. That left four potential points off the scoreboard in a three-point game. Take the points, Oregon. Take. The. Points.

Nebraska will hit the road next week for their first Big Ten game of the season. The Cornhuskers travel to Northwestern, a team that has given Nebraska the fits in recent years. Oregon will return home for its Pac-12 opener against Colorado. Colorado gave Michigan a run for a while in Ann Arbor before the Wolverines put them away in the second half of a 45-28 victory.

Oregon loses RB Royce Freeman in first half vs. Nebraska

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In a Big Ten-Pac-12 battle, Oregon and Nebraska may have been expected to put a bunch of points on the scoreboard. The first half has had a more defensive approach, with Oregon holding a 20-14 lead at the halftime break in Lincoln. The main story of the first half, however, has been a notable injury to one of the top offensive weapons for the Ducks.

Oregon running back Royce Freeman left the game with an apparent leg injury after rushing five times for 31 yards. He was spotted on the field with ice wrapped around his right knee on the bench with a towel over his head. The extent of the injury has been unconfirmed, but he has not returned.

Oregon was first to score in Lincoln with a 20-yard touchdown run by Tony Brooks in the first quarter on third down. In typical Ducks fashion, Oregon opted to go for two points instead of kick the extra point, and the conversion was successful. It took slightly longer for the Cornhuskers to answer, but they did later in the first quarter with Tommy Armstrong connecting with Jordan Westerkamp from 22 yards. Nebraska kicked the extra point to create a one-point game.

Oregon expanded its lead in the second quarter with a short touchdown run by Brooks from the two-yard line on third down. The defense came through with a fumble recovery after Armstrong lost control of the football. It was returned 34 yards to midfield by Oregon, and Taj Griffin dashed 50 yards for a score on the very next play for a 20-7 lead..

Nebraska did cut into the lead thanks to some penalties against Oregon’s defense giving the Cornhuskers multiple opportunities right before the half. Armstrong eventually found Westerkamp in the end zone for one last score in the first half.

Ducks taking Horned Frogs on early trip to woodshed

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before this postseason: Team A is waxing Team B in the X Bowl.

Continuing what’s been the dominant theme of the 2015-16 bowl cycle, Oregon is having little issue whatsoever thus far in taking care of business against TCU, jumping out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead en rout route a 31-0 halftime lead in the Alamo Bowl.  By just about any statistical measure, this one has been about as close as the current score would indicate.

The Ducks rolled up 360 yards of first-half offense, while the Horned Frogs were limited to just 142.  UO out-first downed TCU 18-5 as well.

The Horned Frogs ran just eight offensive plays in Duck territory, and punted on five of their seven possessions.  Their deepest penetration was to the Duck 30-yard line on a drive that ended on downs; their only other drive, other than the one to run out the final :32 of the half, came to a halt on an interception.

A microcosm of TCU’s first-half struggles?  Their special teams appeared to have provided a spark with five minutes left in the half by blocking a Duck punt deep in UO’s territory… only to see the Ducks recover it and legally advance it for a first down to keep the drive alive.

Vernon Adams Jr. continued to show why many an observer felt that, if he had been healthy the entire season, Oregon could’ve very well been involved in the playoffs instead of stuck in a mid-tier bowl.  The FCS graduate transfer completed 13-of-19 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown in the first two quarters.  The Ducks had three players rush for 40 or more yards in the half — Royce Freeman (72), Tony Brooks-James (50), Taj Griffin (40) — as part of a rushing attack that accounted for 163 yards and a 5.8 yards per carry average.

Freeman also accounted for two of the Ducks’ three rushing touchdowns.

Arguably the only negative in the first half was Adams being knocked out of the game late in the second quarter following a hard, but legal, hit.  Adams was taken off the field under his own power and into the locker room, with his return in the second half unknown as of this posting.

This was expected to be one of the better — and more competitive — bowl games, but the arrest and suspension of star TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, as well as injuries to two starting offensive lineman and leading receiver, changed the complexion of the contest entirely.