While Oregon’s coaches believe something has clicked for Royce Freeman in the past two games, the Ducks’ true freshman running back considers his recent success more a natural progression.
Freeman ran for 169 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday night as No. 9 Oregon extended its winning streak over Washington to 11 games with a 45-20 victory.
”A turning point?” Freeman asked. ”I’m just trying to go every each and every week and improve and get a breakthrough. I’m just trying as hard as I can.”
Marcus Mariota threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns for the Ducks (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12), who won their second straight game as they distance themselves from a loss at home to Arizona on Oct. 2.
Freeman’s four TDs were the most rushing touchdowns in a single game for a Duck since Kenjon Barner had five against USC in 2012.
”You saw some of his elusiveness that was legendary in fall camp,” said coach Mark Helfrich, who said Freeman is playing freer.
Offensive coordinator Scott Frost said Freeman has turned a corner after becoming the team’s first 100-yard rusher with 121 yards and two touchdowns in Oregon’s victory last weekend against UCLA.
”If he just runs downhill – as big and as strong as his is – he’s a force,” Frost said.
Cameron Van Winkle hit a pair of field goals for Washington (5-2, 1-2), which hasn’t defeated Oregon since the 2003 season. Sophomore Cyler Miles struggled to find a rhythm, throwing for 147 yards and a touchdown with an interception and a fumble.
”That’s very tough. It’s a rivalry. Some people don’t think its rivalry, but it is a rivalry and it means a lot. It means a lot to us and we really wanted this game but unfortunately, the Ducks prospered today,” Huskies receiver Jaydon Mickens said. ”They were the better team today so hats off to them.”
Oregon celebrated the 20th anniversary of ”The Pick,” Kenny Wheaton’s 97-yard interception return for a game-saving touchdown over the Huskies in 1994 that helped send the Ducks to their first Rose Bowl in 37 years.
Many Oregon fans believe that play was the spark for the Ducks’ rise to national prominence.