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Grading the Game: Oregon

Pac-12 Champs get straight A’s.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 01 PAC-12 Championship Game - Oregon vs Washington Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Passing Offense - A-

A great game all around for the pass game, which had been struggling to recapture early season form in the back half of the year. QB Michael Penix Jr only threw for one touchdown - a two yarder to TE Quentin Moore - but it was a critical play that gave the Huskies a two score lead late. Beyond that, Penix’s arm was essential in driving the offense down the field and allowing RB Dillon Johnson to punch the ball into the end zone. PFF gives Penix four big time throws, tied for the second most he’s had in a game this year. He did throw a pick on what looked like a miscommunication with WR Rome Odunze.

WR Jalen McMillan was healthy and showed just how important he is to the offense with catches of 45 and 31 yards, both of which led to touchdowns shortly thereafter. He led the team in receptions (9) and yards (131). But perhaps no catch was more important than his 6 yard out route on 3rd-and-4 which more or less iced the game. Odunze had a 34 yard catch and finished with 102 yards and 8 catches. WR Ja’Lynn Polk shook off a couple disappointing games with 5 catches for 57 yards, including a 25 yarder on the final touchdown drive of the game.

The offensive line played a physical game against an active Oregon front and were mostly excellent, but Penix was sacked twice. Overall, a vintage performance from Penix and the receivers.

Rushing Offense - A

RB Dillon Johnson was the only running back who got any real opportunities, and set a career high in carries with 28, and finished with 152 yards and two touchdowns (presumably on an injured foot, too). PFF notes Johnson had 114 yards after contact against Oregon, which matches the eye test - he was physical and running over people all night. He also had four forced missed tackles, tied for second most in a game this season. His 9 rushes for 52 yards in UW’s first two drives helped the Huskies jump out to a 10-0 lead and established the run game early as something Oregon had to account for. I suppose this is more related to the pass game, but Johnson was also incredible in pass protection as Oregon brought tons of pressure up the middle and he picked up blitz after blitz.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 01 PAC-12 Championship Game - Oregon vs Washington Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Passing Defense - A-

Except a couple plays here and there, a truly great performance from the secondary which welcomed back a few injured players that clearly made a difference. WR Troy Franklin has been a big play machine for the Ducks this year and he only managed 34 yards on four catches. CB Jabbar Muhammad played well, matched up against the much taller Franklin, and had a great pass break up early which set the tone for how the secondary was going to play. WR Traeshon Holden’s 63 yard catch and run late - which Alphonzo LB Tuputala nearly got his hand on - featured a number of missed tackles, but was that was the one big play they allowed. S Kam Fabiculanan had numerous big plays coming back from injury. He tackled the much larger TE Terrence Ferguson on 3rd down to force a punt, then in back to back plays had a TFL and a 3rd down pass break up to kill an Oregon drive.

Rushing Defense - A

Other than QB Bo Nix getting loose for a 44 yard run, Oregon’s run game had very little success. DT Tuli Letuligasenoa’s presence in the middle no doubt contributed to RBs Bucky Irving and Jordan James combining for 55 yards on 14 carries. Irving in particular found no running room and averaged just 2.2 yards per carry. LBs Edefuan Ulofoshio and Alphonzo Tuputala each had two “stops” a piece, per PFF.

Special Teams - A

With how the offense was playing, P Jack McCallister had just one punt but it was a 54 yard boom. K Grady Gross, fresh off being rewarded a scholarship, was 2/2 on his field goals. WR Germie Bernard showed a glimpse of his playmaking ability with a 32 yard punt return, in which he broke a tackle and reversed field, bringing the ball up the sideline. All in a all, a strong performance.

Coaching - A

Suffice it to say, this Husky team was ready. The defense in particular, despite giving up 31 points, played very well. They forced Oregon into three punts in their first four drives. Oregon eventually punched back, winning the “middle eight”, but the Huskies finished strong and played an immensely physical game for four quarters.

With a lot on the line, they could have let the game get away from them when Oregon intercepted Penix, then had a turnover on downs, at which point Oregon responded with a touchdown. Trailing 24-20, Washington scored touchdowns on two straight drive to the lead that they never relinquished.

It’s never easy beating the same team twice in a season, but UW got it done.