The College Football Playoff committee kept the Oregon Ducks on track for a spot in the national semifinals, voting them No. 3 and moving them up a spot when the rankings were revealed Tuesday night.
Now the Ducks (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) can put some distance between themselves and the rest of the conference’s North Division with a win over Washington State on Saturday night in Eugene, Ore.
A victory would give the Ducks a two-game lead in the North over the next-best team, not to mention keep them in contention for the Pac-12 championship game and a major bowl game if not the CFP semifinals.
Oregon has won four straight games and is coming off a 26-16 victory over Washington in Seattle last week. The Ducks rushed for 329 yards and held the Huskies to 166 yards of total offense.
Travis Dye ran for a career-high 211 yards with a touchdown. His 211 rushing yards were the most in a game by a Pac-12 player this year, and Oregon is 15-1 all-time when Dye scores a touchdown.
Dye has 11 rushing touchdowns this season.
“He’s a game-changer,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said, “and he changed it in a lot of different ways.
“The guy’s the ultimate competitor. The pride that he takes in the course of the week, in the preparation and then I wish you could see him behind the scenes as a leader and the amount of energy and passion generated and the way he addresses, encourages, talks, pushes and challenges his teammates is really special. We’re getting to enjoy all of the fruits of his labor.”
Washington State (5-4, 4-2) comes into Eugene having won four of its past five games. The Cougars are 1-1 since Nick Rolovich was fired as head coach over his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, which went against regulations for Washington state employees.
The one win came on Oct. 30 at Arizona State, 34-21, with the Cougars in control from start to finish. Under interim head coach Jake Dickert, Washington State is looking for its first win over a Top 25 team since a victory over No. 24 Iowa State in the 2018 Alamo Bowl, the first win over a Top 10 team since beating No. 5 USC at home in 2017, and the first road win over a Top 10 team since defeating No. 6 Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl.
Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura leads the Pac-12 with 17 touchdown passes, is second in passing yards per game (245.9) and has four three-touchdown games this season.
The Washington State defense leads the Pac-12 and is tied for fifth in the country with 20 takeaways, and the Cougars are tied for second place in the nation with 11 fumble recoveries.
“When you look at Oregon, the biggest thing in why I have such high regard and respect for their program is it’s not just good players,” Dickert said. “They’re coached well, their schemes are very detailed. They win the game at the line of scrimmage. They don’t beat themselves. Our guys are going to be ready to meet that challenge come Saturday night.”
–Field Level Media