EUGENE, Ore. — Eleventh-ranked Washington State can add a road win to this season’s resume, finally.
Luke Falk threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns and the Cougars held Oregon scoreless after the first quarter for a 33-10 victory Saturday night at Autzen Stadium.
The Cougars (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) were on their first trip after quirky scheduling gave them their opening five games in Pullman. The team is off to its best start since winning seven to start the 2001 season.
“It’s a starting point,” Cougars coach Mike Leach said about winning away from home for the first time. “We play on the road again next week and we’re going to have to improve.”
Erik Powell contributed to the victory with field goals from 25, 52, 47 and 29 yards.
True freshman Braxton Burmeister made his first college start and threw for 145 yards and a touchdown for Oregon (4-2, 1-2). He also threw two interceptions.
Justin Herbert started at quarterback for the Ducks to start the season, but he broke his collarbone in Oregon’s 45-24 victory over California last weekend.
Running back Royce Freeman, who also left the game against Cal because of injury, started against the Cougars and ran 16 yards on his first carry. He finished with 62 yards rushing.
“They did their homework,” Freeman said of Washington State’s run defense. “We’ve got to go out there and be more aggressive next time.”
The Cougars were coming off a statement-making 30-27 victory over then-No. 5 Southern California last Friday night. The victory pushed Washington State to its highest AP ranking since the end of the 2003 season.
“One thing we can’t think about is being bowl eligible,” linebacker Hunter Dale said. “We can’t get comfortable. We have to keep winning one week at a time. We also have to listen to our coaches and not the outside noise.”
After Falk’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Morrow on the Cougars’ opening play from scrimmage, the Ducks scored on Aidan Schneider’s 20-yard field goal. Oregon took the lead on Burmeister’s 30-yard pass to Jacob Breeland.
Powell made field goals from 25 and 52 yards to give the lead back to the Cougars. The second one was the longest of his career.
Falk threw a 10-yard TD pass to Renard Bell on Washington State’s first series of the second half for a 20-10 lead. Powell added a 47-yard field goal midway through the third quarter.
Falk’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Johnson-Mack opened the fourth quarter on the first play after the Cougars intercepted Burmeister. Powell added his final field goal with 1:41 left.
Ducks coach Willie Taggart said he hugged Burmeister after the game, telling him he still believed in him.
“We didn’t play well around him. We have a lot of weapons that aren’t out there, and that hurts too, Taggart said. ‘We’ve just got to do a better job, you know? They beat us.”
Washington State has won three straight against the Ducks after an eight-game winning streak for Oregon.
Falk has thrown for 19 TDs with just two interceptions this season. He went into Saturday’s game ranked fifth nationally with 1,178 passing yards, an average of 343.6 per game (sixth nationally).
Washington State: Coach Mike Leach was seen eating a banana on the field during pregame warmups, drawing a few comments on social media about whether he was poking fun at Oregon’s all-yellow uniforms.
Oregon: The Ducks’ D sacked Falk four times. … Burmeister competed this past week with Taylor Alie for the starting nod. Alie replaced Herbert in the Cal game, but left the game in the fourth quarter after it appeared he hit his head on the turf. Following Saturday night’s game, Taggart said Alie was not available to play, and that it became clear he was out on Friday.
DEPLETED RECEIVERS: Burmeister’s debut was impacted by key injuries among Oregon’s receivers. Senior Charles Nelson remained out with a right ankle injury while Dillon Mitchell, who was also injured in the first half against Cal, was unavailable because of a concussion.
NOT FOOLED: Leach said Washington State was prepared for either Burmeister or Alie.
“They did all that cloak and dagger, ‘Guess who’s going to play?’ which we didn’t care because they have an offensive identity that they’ve had for a long time and obviously that guy was going to try and duplicate that.”
Leach also praised Burmeister as tough.
Washington State is on the road again for a Friday night game at California.
Oregon visits Stanford in the Pac-12 After Dark game with an 8:05 p.m. start.