Depleted Ducks show fight but can't hang with Sooners in 47-32 Alamo Bowl loss
Oregon got a three-and-out from its defense to open Wednesday night’s Alamo Bowl against the 16th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. With a converted offensive lineman playing nose tackle and several key defensive players unavailable for the game, the makeshift Duck front seven looked for a moment like it wanted to prove something.
But on the fourth offensive play on Oregon’s first possession, quarterback Anthony Brown threw a little behind his man and into a crowd of crimson shirts. The ball popped off his receiver’s hands, up into the air, and down into a Sooner defensive back’s arms. Against an explosive Oklahoma offense with a dynamic quarterback, Oregon needed to start hot on both sides of the ball.
Instead, the Sooners forced the game’s first turnover, then converted a fourth-and-2 on the ensuing possession to capture momentum and spur a 54-yard touchdown drive in four-and-a-half minutes. From that point on, it was all Oklahoma. Oregon made things somewhat interesting in garbage time in the fourth quarter, but the Sooners left the Alamo with a 47-32 win.
Between the second and third quarters, Oklahoma’s offense scored touchdowns on five straight possessions. First-quarter runs right at the Ducks turned into second-quarter deep shots from quarterback Caleb Williams to a bevy of receivers. Oregon was without both its starting corners, and Oklahoma attacked the replacements once it had sucked the defense up into the box.
The Sooners were up 30-3 at halftime. In the second quarter alone, Oklahoma averaged 10.6 yards a play.
Brown looked shaky early on, missing an open Troy Franklin in the end zone for a would-be touchdown (though Franklin made little effort on the ball) and putting several other balls in the dirt at his receivers’ feet. Despite a strong start on the ground for running back Travis Dye, Oregon threw it 17 times against seven runs in the second as Oklahoma pulled away.
But then Oklahoma’s secondary grew incredibly leaky in the third quarter and into the fourth, as Brown was able to find receivers in behind Sooner defenders. To the Ducks’ credit, a roster decimated by injury, transfer, COVID protocols, and opt-outs never quit.
The sixth-year senior quarterback threw for 306 yards and three scores in the game, completing 27 of his 40 attempts. He was 11-for-17 for 191 yards after the halftime break, with all three of his scores coming in the final 30 minutes.
A bright spot on the evening was undoubtedly the play of Dye, who finished with 153 yards and a score on 18 rushing attempts. In the first half, he passed the 3,000-yard rushing mark for his career and became only the fifth Oregon player in school history to reach that threshold.
Oregon ends its season at 10-4. It’ll now enter into an offseason that’ll feature significant change at the program as new head coach Dan Lanning takes over, the coaching staff flips entirely, and a new quarterback takes the reins of the offense.