Progress for the Washington Huskies lasted a week.
Then again, no one is making progress against the Oregon Ducks, who were already good enough without the Huskies serving up turnovers like batting-practice fastballs.
A fumbled punt, a pick six and a Keith Price fumble, all in the first half, led directly to 21 points and denial of even the Huskies’ traditional gee-we-played-’em-close halftime mythology in the rivalry that no longer is.
The Ducks Saturday night in Eugene won their ninth consecutive in the series, 52-21, that in no way resembled 23rd-ranked Washington’s upset victory a week earlier against Stanford. The Ducks’ no-blink offense was ruthlessly effective in booming out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead that made those who drove down from Seattle wonder if, at $4 a gallon, it was the greatest waste of gas since driving to Hawaii.
Behind a remarkable freshman quarterback, Marcus Mariota, who passed for four touchdowns in 15 completions, the Ducks hit their seasonal average of 52 points with ease, thanks to Washington making many of the foolish mistakes it seem to have solved in the 17-13 win over the Cardinal.
Hard to believe, but the Huskies actually started off well. Freshman defensive back Shaq Thompson intercepted a tipped pass to end Oregon’s first series. Even though the Huskies made nothing of it, the defense forced the Ducks to punt on their second possession.
But freshman return man Marvin Hall started to move his feet before he caught the punt. His fumble at the Washington 20 was recovered by Oregon and cashed in two plays later by De’Anthony Thomas, the planet’s fastest man while carrying a football, from 16 yards.
The Ducks (6-0, 3-0 in Pa-12) went up 14-0 when the Ducks quick-snapped against an unprepared Huskies defense at the UW 21. Mariota hit sophomore wideout Keanon Lowe with a touchdown pass before the Huskies secondary even knew he was in the end zone.
With 2:07 left in the first quarter, Ducks cornerback Avery Patterson made an easy pick of a Price pass and returned it 43 yards untouched for a 21-0 lead. That was the second of five Washington turnovers in a game that had to be played perfectly to engineer a second consecutive upset of a top 10 team.
The Huskies (3-2, 2-1) had a flicker of life in the second quarter with a 73-yard touchdown drive that ended with a one-yard TD run by Bishop Sankey, who finished with 102 yards in 25 carries. But Oregon scored on two more passes from Mariota, one set up by Price’s fumble after a first-down scramble, for a 35-7 lead that had Ducks fans chortling again at their once-formidable rivals.
The Huskies lost premier tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins for the second half with a sprained ankle, further handicapping a mediocre passing game. When he wasn’t victimized by dropped passes, Price was throwing behind receivers or watching helplessly as they ran wrong routes. Price finished 19 of 31 with two picks and 145 yards.
Oregon finished with a relatively modest 497 yards of total offense, but called off its starters early in the second half. The Ducks were helped by three personal-foul, late hit penalties against Washington in the second half, the sort of foolishness that coach Steve Sarkisian has railed against all season.
On all fronts progress, as was mentioned, stopped Saturday.