It’s a favorite cliché of any football coach, but it proves particularly true against teams like Oregon: turnovers typically dictate the outcome of the game.
So it’s not surprising after looking at the final score – 45-24 in favor of the second-ranked Ducks – that Oregon also won the turnover battle.
The first of the Huskies’ giveaways was particularly haunting, because it came when the game was tied, 7-7, in the first quarter. UW got the ball back after forcing the Ducks to punt, and faced a third-and-8 play at Oregon’s 36.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian said afterward that he had decided that was two-down territory. The Huskies would run the ball, then go for it on fourth down if that rush didn’t gain the necessary yardage to move the chains.
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Running back Bishop Sankey made a decent gain, but the ball popped out of his grasp after he took a hit from an Oregon player. The Ducks’ Torrodney Prevot landed on it, and Oregon took over at its 31.
The Ducks scored a touchdown less than three minutes later, and didn’t trail during the game.
“Turnovers are turnovers,” Sarkisian said. “When you turn the ball over twice and they don’t turn it over … that’s the No. 1 stat in football for winning and losing. I thought both of our turnovers occurred in their territory, so it took potential points off the board for us and gave them possession. I thought those both were relatively big plays in the outcome of the game.”
“I just remember trying to get to the outside, and I got hit,” Sankey said, though he wasn’t sure if it was an opponent’s helmet that knocked the ball loose, as it appeared on the replay. “Next thing, the ball’s on the ground and they were corralling around it.”
The second was an interception thrown by quarterback Keith Price to Oregon safety Erick Dargan late in the first half. Price threw long for receiver Jaydon Mickens, but Mickens broke off on a corner route and watched the ball sail well past him.
Dargan sprinted from the middle of the field and caught the ball at Oregon’s 12-yard line.
“Just on the wrong page,” Price said. “I should have probably just, I don’t know, maybe took a sack or something. But we were just on different pages.”
Had he taken a sack, the Huskies would have had to punt, anyway, so the interception wasn’t quite as damaging as the fumble.
THUMB BOTHERED PRICE
Price wouldn’t lie. His thumb bothered him at least a little bit on Saturday.
“It hurt,” Price said. “It hurt. No doubt. It’s football. You’re going to end up banging it.”
Still, he completed 19 of his 32 passes, though Sarkisian lamented that because UW trailed by two scores late in the game, the Huskies were forced to throw the ball more and Oregon fed off their one-dimensional approach.
Saturday marked the first visit to Seattle by the crew of ESPN College GameDay, the popular college football pregame show.
Fans began lining up in the early morning hours for the 6 a.m. show, and the crew – Chris Fowler, Desmond Howard and Kirk Herbstreit among them – seemed genuinely impressed by the showing.
The show’s “guest pickers” were former UW and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Warren Moon, and former UW soccer player and U.S. national team member Hope Solo.
Not surprisingly, both incorrectly picked the Huskies to win.