Oregon is headed to the Holiday Bowl and a postseason matchup against North Carolina.
It’ll be a game at Petco Park in San Diego on Dec. 28 between two teams who stumbled during the final weeks of the regular season and — potentially — two of the best quarterbacks in the NCAA this season.
The Ducks (9-3) haven’t played since a 38-34 loss to Oregon State on Nov. 26 when they surrendered a 21-point lead to the Beavers in the second half in a defeat that knocked Oregon out of the Pac-12 championship game.
After winning eight straight following a season-opening loss to Georgia and being ranked No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings on Nov. 8, the Ducks lost two of their last three games.
It’s been a similar story this season for the Tar Heels (9-4), who have lost three straight, including to Clemson in the ACC championship game on Saturday, 39-10.
Despite the disappointing ends to the season for both teams, this bowl matchup has star power at quarterback if both starters end up playing.
More Oregon football:Beavers to face Florida in Las Vegas Bowl
Oregon’s Bo Nix, who was limited by an ankle injury the last two games, has thrown for 3,388 yards, 27 touchdowns and six interceptions on 271-of-379 passing. He also has rushed for 504 yards and 14 TDs, and has two receptions for 36 yards and one touchdown reception.
Nix ranks No. 2 in the NCAA in yards per play, with 8.4. He’s No. 2 in completion percentage (71.5%), No. 3 in TDs responsible for 42, No. 8 in total offensive yards with 3,928, and No. 8 in passing efficiency rating (166.9).
But he is also a senior with professional aspirations, and though he has a year of eligibility remaining, there is a chance Nix’s Oregon career could end with him opting out of the bowl game and declaring for the NFL Draft.
He has not made any public indication one way or the other.
North Carolina is led by 6-5, 220-pound redshirt freshman Drake Maye, who has thrown for 4,115 yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 324-of-482 passing. He’s also rushed for 653 yards and seven TDs.
Maye was the ACC player of the year, and is the NCAA leader in total yards (4,768) and No. 3 in passing yards, and he’s No. 3 in total TDs and No. 5 in passing TDs.
CB Gonzalez taking talents to NFL
The Oregon defense will be without one of its top players against Maye and the Tar Heels, as cornerback Christian Gonzalez announced Sunday morning he is opting out of the bowl and declaring for the NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-2 third-year sophomore played just one season for the Ducks after transferring from Colorado. He was tied for the team lead with three interceptions and led the team with seven pass breakups. He was also fourth in tackles with 45.
Gonzalez has been projected as a first-round pick in 2023 mock drafts.
“I am super excited to see where this next chapter — the one I have been dreaming of my whole life — will take me,” Gonzalez wrote in his social media announcement.
He isn’t the only Oregon player who has opted out of the bowl game, though he is the first starter to do so.
Wide receiver Dont’e Thornton, running back Byron Cardwell Jr., third-string quarterback Jay Butterfield, offensive lineman Bram Walden and edge rusher Bradyn Swinson have all announced they’re entering the transfer portal.
Pac-12 bowl lineup
Six other conference teams will play bowl games:
- Las Vegas Bowl — Oregon State vs. Florida, Dec. 17
- L.A. Bowl — Washington State vs. Fresno State, Dec. 17
- Alamo Bowl — Washington vs. Texas, Dec. 29
- Sun Bowl — UCLA vs. Pittsburgh, Dec. 30
- Cotton Bowl — USC vs. Tulane, Jan. 2
- Rose Bowl — Utah vs. Penn State, Jan. 2
This story will be updated.
Oregon vs. North Carolina
5 p.m., Dec. 28 at Petco Park, San Diego