Washington State and No. 9 Oregon will both try to rebound from difficult losses when they meet in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday afternoon.
Which defeat was more devastating remains to be seen.
The Ducks fell 36-33 at then-No. 7 Washington last Saturday as Camden Lewis’ last-second, 43-yard field-goal attempt sailed just wide of the right upright.
Meanwhile, Washington State was blown out 44-6 by Arizona the same day in Pullman, Wash. It was the second consecutive defeat for the Cougars (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12), who dropped out of the Top 25 after being ranked No. 13 before a 25-17 loss at UCLA on Oct. 7.
Oregon coach Dan Lanning’s play-calling came into question after the Ducks (5-1, 2-1) thrice failed to convert on fourth-and-3, twice in the red zone and once near midfield with 2:11 left in the game. The Huskies needed just two plays to score the go-ahead touchdown, as Heisman Trophy hopeful Michael Penix Jr. threw an 18-yard scoring strike to Rome Odunze.
“At the end of the day, they made a couple of more plays than we did,” Lanning said. “We made some decisions we probably could have made differently throughout that game, but our guys battled to the end (and) I thought they showed some resiliency.
“This game’s 100 percent on me. I don’t think you guys have to look anywhere else but me.”
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix, whose Heisman hopes took a shot in the showdown with Penix, defended his coach and teammates in the wake of the defeat.
“A lot of people, they want to see how we respond, and I’m excited for that,” said Nix, who produced 337 yards and two touchdowns on 33-of-44 passing against the Huskies. “I think that’s the challenge that I can’t wait for, and this group is going to be able to write its own story, write its own journey. And I think if it was easy, everybody would do it.
“If there was no failures, then everybody would be playing football, you know? So, I think that’s part of it. You win and lose. You go out there and play your best. You go out there and enjoy the process. Even though I hated the outcome of (Saturday), it was one heck of a football game that I loved playing.”
The Cougars scored on their opening drive against Arizona, their homecoming opponent, but failed to score again.
Quarterback Cameron Ward was 22 of 30 for 192 yards with one interception and a lost fumble. The Cougars gained just 35 yards on 22 rushing attempts.
“I think the biggest thing is we gotta get back to getting the ball out decisively — and quickly,” Washington State coach Jake Dickert said. “I think you see a little bit of hesitation in Cam (Ward) sometimes. But like I said, coverage-wise, we did get what we expected to get. So make the correct play.”
Last year in Pullman, the Cougars had a 12-point lead with just under seven minutes remaining before Oregon scored three consecutive touchdowns for a 44-41 victory.