Nix sets NCAA Mark for Career Starts, Leads No. 9 Oregon over Cougs
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon got its rebound win, but the Ducks were far from satisfied.
Bo Nix threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns while setting the NCAA record for most career starts and No. 9 Oregon downed Washington State 38-24 on Saturday.
Nix started in his 54th college game and the Ducks (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) became bowl eligible after a disappointing 36-33 loss at rival Washington last weekend.
Bucky Irving ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns, while also catching a scoring pass from Nix to keep Oregon undefeated at home this season.
“I think we're still trying to grow because we didn't play like we wanted to, coming off of (last) Saturday,” Nix said. “A win's a win. I'm never going to complain about winning a game. It's hard to do in college football.”
Washington State (4-3, 1-3) lost its third straight game. The Cougars were ranked as high as No. 13 in the AP Top 25 earlier this season but they lost 25-17 to UCLA in Pasadena and then fell 44-6 to Arizona in Pullman last weekend.
The game was billed as a battle between two of the Pac-12's top quarterbacks.
Nix, a Heisman hopeful, went into the game averaging 299.3 yards passing a game — third in the league behind Washington's Michael Penix and Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders.
With his 54th start, Nix — who transferred to Oregon from Auburn before the 2022 season — passed Boise State's Kellen Moore and Colt McCoy of Texas, who made 53 during their careers.
Washington State’s Cameron Ward averaged 296.5 yards a game, ranked 12th in the nation. He threw for 438 yards and a touchdown for the Cougars, but was sacked six times. Lincoln Victor caught 16 passes for 161 yards.
“I think they came out and took that team's best punch,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said. “Washington State played really hard today, too, and they had some big moments within that game. I don't think our guys ever got rattled, they stayed focused in the moment. And that's what playing great football is all about: It's being one-play focused. But I know there's a lot of things we want to get right, and I think we can do better.”
Nix threw a touchdown pass to Troy Franklin on the team's first series, but it was nullified by a holding call. The drive ended when Camden Lewis' 47-yard field goal attempt went wide left.
The Cougars, who were nearly 20-point underdogs earlier in the week, scored first on Dean Janikowski's 36-yard field goal.
But on the next series, Nix connected with Tez Johnson on a 46-yeard pass to get to the Washington State 10. But again, the Ducks were stalled by the Cougars and settled for a 27-yard field goal to tie it at 3.
The Cougars went up 10-3 in the second quarter on Nikia Johnson's 4-yard touchdown dash up the middle. The 97-yard drive was highlighted by Ward's 47-yard pass to Kyle Williams.
The Ducks answered with Irving's 2-yard scoring run to once again tie it. The Ducks went ahead on Nix's 2-yard keeper with 44 seconds left in the half, but Washington State narrowed the gap with Janikowski's 33-yard field goal as time ran out.
After Nix found Irving with a 42-yard scoring play to put the Ducks up 24-13, Janikowski made a 50-yard field goal for Washington State.
Irving ran 43 yards for a touchdown before the end of the third quarter. There was a scary moment in the fourth quarter when he went down with an injury, prompting the crowd to chant his name. But he walked, unaided, off the field and was seen laughing on the sideline and returned for the final play of the game.
Lanning said afterward Irving was going to be evaluated, but noted he did return to the field.
“His heart's pounding out of his chest, right? This dude is so passionate. He cares so much for his teammates. Never goes down on first contact. Really selfless player and I think that shows up when you watch this guy play on the field,” Lanning said of Irving.
Nix threw a 17-yard scoring pass to Johnson with just under nine minutes left to give the Ducks a 38-16 lead.
Ward's only touchdown throw of the game came with 52nd seconds left, when he hit Isaiah Hamilton with a 16-yard pass.
Washington State: Back for the Oregon game was tight end Cooper Mathers, who missed two games with a hamstring injury. ... Lincoln Victor was limited last weekend against Arizona because of a high ankle sprain. ... The Cougars managed just 28 yards rushing in the first half.
Oregon: The Ducks have won five straight against the Cougars. ... Oregon wore throwback “Mighty Oregon” uniforms with yellow pants and helmets with bright green jerseys, which paid tribute to the 1984 team. The Ducks wore a version of the look during a game against Washington in 2014, too. ... Oregon has just one turnover this season, fewest in the nation.
Washington State: Visit Arizona State on Saturday.
Oregon: Visit Utah on Saturday.