Oregon enjoys two-point conversion attempts. It has for a while. Dating back to 2008, when Mike Bellotti was the coach, stretching through Chip Kelly's four years and Mark Helfrich's three and change, the Ducks have gone for two at least four times every season in that window. Plenty of teams go entire seasons with zero or one conversion attempt.
The Ducks entered Saturday's game at Nebraska having tried it six times in two weeks, succeeding on three of those. And then they went for two a whopping five times. They converted the first and missed the rest, resulting in four points they didn't get that they almost surely could've gotten just by kicking extra points.
Nebraska won, 35-32. Those four points probably would've come in handy.
It's hard to make sweeping statements about hypothetical events in sports. Maybe the game would've played out differently if Oregon had just been kicking PATs all afternoon. Maybe not.
But the result here, combined with Oregon's incessant trying and failure to get two points after its touchdowns, will leave a sour taste in the Ducks' mouths for a while.
1. After Oregon's first touchdown, Helfrich opted for two. Charles Nelson ran in for a conversion.
2. After Oregon's second touchdown, Helfrich opted for two. On a gadget play, Nelson (who's not a quarterback) threw incomplete. The attempt failed.
3. After Oregon's third touchdown, Helfrich opted for two. Nelson tried to run in and failed.
4. After Oregon's fourth touchdown, Helfrich opted for two. Dakota Prukop threw incomplete.
5. After Oregon's fifth touchdown, Helfrich opted for two. Prukop tried to run in and failed.
Going for two is not an inherently bad idea.
Credit to Helfrich for having some nerve, and why not, when he's got an offense with Oregon's talent? NFL teams with very good offenses have become more open to this, and even though college extra-point kicks come from closer in, it can make sense to try to put your opponent at a particular disadvantage.
In the past, this has sometimes worked really well for Oregon. The Ducks were 0-of-4 last year, but they were 4-of-7 in 2014, 4-of-6 in 2012 and 5-of-7 in 2011. (2013 was another bad year, at 2-of-6.) These are small differences in the Ducks' point totals, and they had never before impacted a game's result in any kind of obvious way.
But Saturday, it didn't work. Oregon missed out on four points it could've had almost for free, and it lost by less than that margin. The Ducks had plenty of other chances to win the game – including by stopping a Nebraska fourth-and-9 on the Huskers' game-winning scoring drive late in the fourth quarter – but they made a choice, and they ultimately paid up.