EUGENE, Oregon (Ticker) -- Joey Harrington wasted no time living up to the hype.
Harrington threw for two touchdowns and ran for the winning score with 4:03 remaining as he rallied No. 7 Oregon to its 21st straight home victory, a 31-28 triumph over No. 23 Wisconsin.
With the financial help of alumni, Oregon hung a 100-foot cloth billboard in midtown Manhattan this summer, touting Harrington for the Heisman Trophy.
The junior quarterback said he had grown tired of talking about the billboard and Wisconsin backup Jim Sorgi almost ended all of the conversation. Starting for Brooks Bollinger -- who sat out with a bruised liver -- Sorgi threw for two TDs before his sneak gave Wisconsin (1-1) a 28-24 lead with 9:37 left.
Harrington directed a nine-play, 78-yard drive for the winning score. On third down, he hit tight end Justin Peelle with a 25-yard pass to the Wisconsin 30.
Onterrio Smith scampered 19 yards to the 11 but the defense stiffened and forced 4th-and-inches from the 2. Harrington called his own number, taking a step left before diving into the end zone for the last of six lead changes.
"I feel like we escaped, even though we made typical first-game mistakes," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said.
"We didn't give Wisconsin the respect they deserve tonight and they almost took advantage of that," Smith admitted.
Harrington completed 22-of-47 passes for 277 yards with a pair of interceptions. He avenged last year's 27-23 loss to the Badgers in which he threw for 362 yards.
"He played pretty good," Bellotti said. "Not as good as he is capable of, but he made some plays by looking off some receivers and hitting the open man."
Sorgi, who was 16-of-32 for 231 yards and two TDs, had two more chances. The first ended when he was sacked and fumbled at the Badgers 33. The second ended with four straight incompletions from near midfield, the last going through the hands of Nick Davis.
"I thought Jim Sorgi played very well," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. "I thought he showed a lot of composure. He had a lot of checks at the line of scrimmage."
"It was loud. It was tough checking plays at the line of scrimmage," Sorgi said. "We met Oregon's surge and had the lead two times but it just didn't happen."
Sorgi also ran for a score but lost for the first time in four starts. Bollinger was released from the hospital Monday after he was injured in last week's 26-17 win over Virginia.
The Ducks have not lost at Autzen Stadium since 1997. They have the second-longest current home streak behind Florida State's 34.
Oregon jumped to a 10-0 first-quarter lead on a 20-yard field goal by Jared Siegel and Harrington's 23-yard TD pass to Peelle, who caught four passes for 71 yards and dropped a couple more.
"I wish I could have had the three passes that I dropped tonight back, but it is always better when you start the season by getting into the end zone," Peelle said.
Sorgi rallied the Badgers with an 18-yard scoring toss to Davis in the second quarter and a 13-yarder to Darrin Charles just over three minutes into the third period. Both came on inside slant patterns.
"I thought we played really well in the second quarter," Alvarez said. "I like the way our offense responded."
Then the fun started. Harrington capped a 71-yard drive with an 11-yard TD toss to Peelle but Wiscconsin regained the lead at 21-17 on a 69-yard scoring sprint by Anthony Davis, who had 130 yards on 13 carries.
Harrington's 48-yard pass to Lee Evans set up a one-yard TD by Maurice Morris off a lateral toss that gave Oregon a 24-21 lead with 2:43 to go in the third quarter.
Sorgi finished a 61-yard march by sneaking in from a yard out to give Wisconsin a 28-24 advantage with 9:37 remaining.
Smith had 88 yards on eight carries and Keenan Howry had 90 yards on seven catches for the Ducks, who had 413 total yards.
Evans caught eight passes for 168 yards for the Badgers, who amassed 388 yards.