Fans of big plays and offensive fireworks (not to mention flashy — literally — uniforms) got their New Year’s wish as the “grandaddy of them all” turned into an offensive display for the ages. The two teams combined for 1,129 total yards and countless highlights in a wild back-and-forth shootout. In the end, Oregon emerged with a 45-38 victory — its first in 95 years.
But it wasn’t the Ducks’ defense that sealed the win by stopping Wisconsin on its final drive in the waning seconds — it was the clock.
Trailing by a touchdown with only 16 seconds left, Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson needed only two plays to take his team from its own 13-yard line to the Oregon 25. But with two seconds left on the clock, Wilson tried to spike the ball to allow his team to set up for one final play. He failed to get the snap off in time, and that was the game.
And with the way the game was going, who knows what might have happened had Wilson been awarded one final play.
“It would have been nice to have a chance there,” Wilson said. “With 1 second left, I think we could have capitalized.”
Just about everyone who touched the ball produced a highlight-reel play. Oregon running backs LaMichael James and De’Anthony Thomas both eclipsed 150 yards on the ground (Thomas doing it with only two carries). Wisconsin’s Montee Ball rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries to finish the season with 39 total touchdowns. Ducks junior quarterback Darron Thomas threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Lavasier Tuinei who came up huge with eight catches for 158 yards to earn offensive player of the game honors. And despite his late gaff, Wilson completed 19 of his 25 pass attempts for 296 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for a score, boosting his NFL draft stock.
Oregon forced a fumble deep in its own territory with the Badgers driving for the tying score late in the fourth quarter. That was one of 11 possessions that did not end in a score, compared to 13 that did.
“We had no doubt this year that we were going to come out and do big things,” said Thomas, who led an offense that averaged 9.7 yards per play. “It’s a big statement for the Oregon program.”
Among the records broken in Monday’s matchup:
• Total points scored: 83 (previous: 80, Washington vs. Iowa, 1991)
• Highest-scoring 1st quarter: 28 points
• Highest-scoring 1st half: 56 points
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