TURNING POINTS

A GAME OR A SEASON CAN SOMETIMES SWING ON A SINGLE PLAY. HERE ARE THREE KEY MOMENTS IN OREGON'S RUN TO THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
December 29, 2014

1. FEAT OF CLAY

On the first snap of the second quarter in Oregon's Nov. 8 game against Utah, Utes wideout Kaelin Clay corralled a deep pass and sprinted for what should have been a 78-yard touchdown and a 14--0 lead. But Clay dropped the ball a step before crossing the goal line, and Ducks linebacker Joe Walker returned it 100 yards to the opposite end zone. In a stunning turn, a two-touchdown advantage became a 7--7 tie. Oregon cruised to a 51--27 victory.

2. THE SHOVEL

Oregon was hosting Michigan State on Sept. 6, and the Spartans had scored 20 unanswered points to take a 27--18 third-quarter lead. On third-and-10 from just shy of midfield, Mariota dropped back and immediately saw the pocket collapsing. He dodged three defenders before stumbling left and flipping the ball to running back Royce Freeman for a 17-yard gain. Five plays later Oregon was in the end zone. The Ducks rallied to win 46--27.

3. THE NONCALL

Washington State gave Oregon all it could handle on Sept. 20. The Cougars trailed 38--31 late in the game and faced a third-and-13 at the Oregon 38. Quarterback Connor Halliday fired a strike to Isiah Myers, who had Ducks corner Dior Mathis draped all over him. The result: plenty of contact, an incomplete pass and no flag. Washington State's sideline went nuts, but to no avail. A play later the Ducks took possession and ran out the clock.

PHOTOJONATHAN FERREY FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)