LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Brown threw two touchdown passes in his unusual Oregon debut, Jamal Hill made an interception with 2:47 to play, and the Ducks won their second straight Pac-12 title with a 31-24 victory over No. 13 Southern California in the championship game Friday night.
Tyler Shough also threw two touchdown passes for the Ducks (4-2), who didn’t win the North Division, yet still claimed the Pac-12′s New Year’s Six bowl berth with their only victory in the past month.
Oregon had a 31-17 lead with less than 10 minutes to play, but Bru McCoy caught a TD pass on fourth down for the Trojans (5-1) before they got the ball back with 4:43 left. USC reached midfield in search of a fourth-quarter comeback win for the fourth time in its six-game season, but Kedon Slovis threw the first fourth-quarter interception of his career.
Hill made an acrobatic play to hang on to the poorly thrown ball, and Oregon’s offense ran all but 23 seconds off the clock. USC reached the Oregon 49, but the Ducks’ pass rush prevented Slovis from getting off a Hail Mary.
The Ducks stunned almost everybody in the mostly empty Coliseum by replacing Shough occasionally with Brown, a senior graduate transfer from Boston College who hadn’t recorded any statistics for Oregon this season. Ducks offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead substituted Brown at various points in various drives throughout the game, and Brown made a series of big plays.
Brown’s first throw for the Ducks was a TD pass to Jaylon Redd on Oregon’s opening drive. He threw another scoring pass to Travis Dye in the third quarter, finishing 3 of 4 for 17 yards.
Hunter Kampmoyer and DJ Johnson also caught TD passes for the Ducks, who got into the title game after consecutive losses only because Washington had to drop out Monday due to coronavirus problems in the program.
Oregon seized the opportunity to continue its domination of the Trojans on the way to the school’s sixth Pac-12 championship in 12 years, including two straight under coach Mario Cristobal. The North Division has won nine of the 10 editions of this title game, including a record four by Oregon.
Slovis passed for 320 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions for the Trojans, whose perfect season ended with their fourth loss in their last five meetings with Oregon.
BALL STATE 38, NO. 23 BUFFALO 28
DETROIT (AP) — Drew Plitt threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score in the first half, and Ball State kept Buffalo star Jaret Patterson under control in the Mid-American Conference title game.
The Cardinals (6-1) won their first MAC championship since 1996, the year before the title game originated. They held Patterson to 47 yards on 18 carries after he’d been averaging over 200 a game. Patterson left with an apparent right leg injury in the third quarter, but he was able to return in the fourth.
By then, Buffalo (5-1) was playing catch-up. The game turned when Ball State scored three touchdowns in the final 5:55 of the first half to take a 35-21 lead.
Buffalo led 21-14 in the second quarter. Then the Cardinals scored three touchdowns in succession.
Plitt’s 9-yard scoring pass to Justin Hall tied it at 21. Then the Bulls left Jalen McGaughy open downfield on third-and-12, and Plitt found him for a 56-yard scoring strike with 1:30 remaining.
Ball State wasn’t done. Jimmy Daw knocked the ball away from quarterback Kyle Vantrease, and Christian Albright returned the fumble 34 yards for a touchdown with 48 seconds to play in the half. That was the first sack Buffalo had allowed all season.