Oregon defended a gadget play from Washington State brilliantly on a fourth-and-3, gave the ball back to Bo Nix and the offense, and then walked into the endzone four plays later for its first lead of the day.

And it did so as the first-half clock ticked under a minute to play.

After taking over on its 39-yard-line, tailback Bucky Irving ran for 6 yards and then exploded for 40.

Jordan James added 8 yards on the next play to get Oregon inside the 10. A pass interference call moved the ball from the 7 down to the 2 and reset the chains.

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix kept it himself for a 2-yard touchdown on the next play.

That gave Oregon its first lead of the day.

The Cougars weren’t exactly limiting Oregon on the Ducks’ first three drives. It was more about what Oregon was doing to keep points off the board. The first drive of the day went 50 yards in six plays and ended with Camden Lewis pulling a field goal just a tad left.

Drive No. 2 ended with a field goal from the Wazzu 9. And the third drive ended with a punt after 35 yards.

All three of the Ducks’ opening drives featured chunk plays. Penalties and miscues stalled things.

On the last two possessions of the first half — both Oregon touchdowns — the Ducks averaged 10.5 yards a play and finished drives. The run game started getting going and the offensive line started to impose its will.

Washington State got a field goal on the board on the final possession of the first half, but the Ducks went into the break with a 17-13 lead.