LARAMIE — When Oregon kicked off at War Memorial Stadium late Saturday afternoon, it began Wyoming’s first home game against a Power Five team since 2011.
Cowboys head coach Craig Bohl doesn’t believe in “Power Five” conferences. He does, however, believe in “Power Programs,” and he believes that Oregon is one of them.
That gap was evident Saturday. The Ducks embarrassed the Cowboys in their second-ever meeting, 49-13 in front of a crowd of 29,139.
“That team executed really well, and they have good players,” Bohl said when asked if there was a talent disparity between his Mountain West Cowboys and Pac-12 Oregon. “And I’ll leave it at that.”
Twenty-one scouts from 16 NFL teams were in attendance Saturday to see Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, who nearly declared for the most recent draft after a breakout 2016. The redshirt junior did his draft stock no favors, completing 9 of 24 passes for 64 yards with a rushing touchdown, a lost fumble and an interception.
Allen’s 37.5 completion percentage was the worst of his Wyoming career, and his 64 passing yards were his fewest in a complete game. Allen now has seven combined turnovers in three fourth quarters against Power Five teams. The only way he could face another Power Five opponent this season is in a bowl game.
Throughout the game, Allen was slow to rise after taking big hits. After the game, he was not made available to media, as he was receiving immediate medical attention for a sprained ankle. Backup Nick Smith quarterbacked Wyoming’s final drive, his first snaps since 2015.
Running back Royce Freeman powered Oregon (3-0) with 157 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. The senior passed Southern California’s LenDale White and tied former Duck LaMichael James for second place among Pac-12 running backs in career rushing touchdowns. With 53, he and James are now tied for the most in Oregon history.
Oregon converted on nine of 17 third downs, and one of two fourth downs, while Wyoming was successful on just four of 15 third-down conversions.
“What was going to be important was for ... us to get some sustained drives, and that just never happened,” Bohl said. “A fast-paced offense can be a double-edged sword, and the best thing you can do is come up with a couple three and outs and then have some long drives on offense to keep them sitting on the bench. And we were not able, ever, to do that tonight.”
The Cowboys (1-2) had a brief chunk of success in the first quarter. After Wyoming’s third straight three-and-out, Charles Nelson bobbled Tim Zaleski’s punt and Drew Van Maanen recovered the fumble. Milo Hall picked up a first down on a 14-yard run, and Allen ran it the rest of the way for a 10-yard touchdown, his first scoring run of the year.
On the next drive, Carl Granderson strip-sacked Oregon’s Justin Herbert on third-and-8, and Kevin Prosser recovered the ball. Wyoming took over within 25 yards of the Oregon end zone for the second straight drive, and Cooper Rothe cut the lead to 14-10 with a 30-yard field goal.
But it was a brief respite in a disheartening game for the Cowboys, and they slumped into halftime down 42-10.
Both of Oregon’s first two drives had begun within 5 yards of midfield, and the Ducks took advantage, marching 55 yards on 12 plays and 51 yards on six plays to score on two short Freeman runs. The Ducks fumbled their next two drives away, but then expanded their lead to 21-10 on a 9-yard Herbert run to cap a 75-yard drive.
The Ducks added three more touchdowns in the next 5:15. The first, a 20-yard pass from Herbert to Taj Griffin, and second, a 1-yard Freeman run, followed Wyoming three-and-outs. The third, a 2-yard Kani Benoit run, came after Allen fumbled on Wyoming’s first play of its drive.
The bleeding slowed after halftime, as neither team scored in the first 13 minutes. Rothe capped an 11-play, 47-yard drive, which began after a Rico Gafford interception, with a 42-yard field goal.
The fourth quarter began with an Allen interception, whose arm was hit as he threw. The Ducks, aided by a Zach Wallace personal foul after the pick, drove 70 yards and scored their only points of the half on a 4-yard Benoit run.
Wyoming true freshman Trey Woods, an Oregon native, set career highs with 11 carries for 42 yards. The Cowboys rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time this season as they finished with 117.
Oregon ran 95 total plays, the most by a Wyoming opponent in regulation since 2004, when Ole Miss ran 100 in a Wyoming win. Wyoming ran 57 plays Saturday.
The loss was Wyoming’s first at home in the regular season since losing to Colorado State on Nov. 7, 2015.
The two teams first met in 2014, with Oregon winning 48-14 in the first game of the home-and-home series. Wyoming hosts Hawaii at 8:15 p.m. Saturday to begin Mountain West play.