Mario Cristobal wanted his players to celebrate with their families on Saturday night and perhaps treat themselves to a meal at the Original Pancake House on Sunday morning.
But now the Ducks are focusing on a business trip to Pullman, Wash.
Oregon, which moved up from No. 17 to No. 12 in this week’s Associated Press poll after Saturday’s rousing 30-27 overtime win over Washington, must quickly turn its attention to No. 25 Washington State.
The Cougars (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) have won the past three meetings with Oregon and will be welcoming ESPN’s College GameDay to campus for the first time.
“Success is sometimes a little bit more dangerous than defeat, so you’re always on guard for that,” Cristobal said after the Ducks snapped their two-game losing streak to Washington in dramatic fashion. “Human nature is what it is. That’s our fight as coaches every day …
“We have to make sure a casual feel never creeps into your program.”
There was nothing casual about the Ducks’ game plan against the preseason Pac-12 favorite Huskies (5-2, 3-1), who dropped to No. 15 in the AP poll.
Oregon’s defensive line made timely fourth-down and goal-line stops, and the running game kept chipping away at the Washington defense until toppling it with CJ Verdell’s game-winning touchdown scamper.
“It’s third-and-6 to win the game in OT and we run inside zone?” a beaming Shane Lemieux, Oregon’s relentless left guard, wondered aloud. “That’s a big-time call and that’s a statement about what type of coach (Cristobal) wants to be and it’s a statement that he wanted to make in that last play because we knew we were going to score.”
Even after facing the Pac-12’s most stingy defense, Oregon ranks first in the conference and 11th nationally in scoring (43.0 ppg) and 18th in total offense (482.8 ypg).
Justin Herbert was 18-for-32 passing for 202 yards and two touchdowns. The junior quarterback squeezed the ball through a tight window to Jaylon Redd for a brilliant red-zone touchdown and connected with Dillon Mitchell to convert a third-and-11 in overtime.
“The number one NFL draft pick found me,” Mitchell said after finishing his Husky hunt with eight receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown.
Herbert and the offense had to watch helplessly on the final snap of regulation as Washington's Peyton Henry lined up for a game-winning field goal. The redshirt freshman’s 37-yard try sailed wide right after Cristobal let him think about the moment over two timeouts.
“It’s definitely tough for sure, but to know you’ve got a defense out there doing everything they can is reassuring,” Herbert said. “Just to get an opportunity to go play in overtime was really special, and we had our guys locked in and keyed in.
“We knew what we were going to do, and fortunately it played out that way.”
Verdell finished with 111 of Oregon’s 177 rushing yards and both rushing touchdowns. Fans wanted to carry the redshirt freshman off the field three weeks after his costly fumble late in regulation opened the door for Stanford’s deflating overtime win.
“Very redeeming, but I kind of put that Stanford fumble behind me and went to work,” Verdell said. “My guys told me I was going to be OK, and we just went to work.”
The Ducks have a lot of work to do to prepare for Mike Leach’s balanced Cougars. Washington State, coming off a bye week, is 16th in total offense (485.5 ypg) and 15th in total defense (313.7 ypg).
Senior quarterback Gardner Minshew leads the nation in passing, averaging 403.7 yards per game, with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions in Leach’s “Air Raid” offense.
“We quickly change the channel right away,” Cristobal said. “When things like this happen, it’s easier to change the channel. There’s more belief that we could be a pretty good football team.”
The Ducks moved up to No. 11 in the coaches poll, where the Cougars check in at No. 23.