A week after sleep walking through the opening half of a 34-20 loss to Washington State, the Oregon Ducks fell victim to the same script in Tucson, falling behind 23-8 after two quarters of ineffective offense, turnovers and porous defense on their way to a 44-15 shellacking at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats.
Unfortunately, unlike a week ago in Pullman, there was no second half rally in the cards for the Ducks this time around.
Arizona running back J.J. Taylor scorched the Oregon defense for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 30 carries and when the 5’ 6”, 184 pound sophomore wasn’t running past Duck defenders, Wildcat quarterback Khalil Tate was completing 19 of 33 passes for 189 yards and three scores.
Trailing from the early going, Oregon had to rely upon the arm of quarterback Justin Herbert to try to get the Ducks back into the ballgame but it was too much of an uphill struggle against the Wildcats, especially after Arizona extended their halftime margin to 37-8 with a pair of third quarter scores. Herbert finished the night 24 of 48 for 186 yards with a TD and one interception.
In what was surely a sign of the Ducks’ frustrating evening, Herbert also led the Ducks in rushing with 31 yards on six carries. As a team, Oregon was held to 84 total yards rushing on 23 carries, a far cry from the punishing running game that head coach Mario Cristobal envisions for his squad.
Another telling sign were the four balls the Ducks put on the carpet, two of which were recovered by the Wildcats. And adding insult to injury, Oregon also had a punt blocked deep in their own territory that resulted in an Arizona field goal.
The Wildcats held a 36:09 to 23:51 advantage in time of possession in sending the Ducks to a second straight loss, dropping their season record to 5-3 overall and to 2-3 in conference play. Arizona improved to 4-5 on the year and evened their Pac-12 record at 3-3.
Oregon will seek to right the ship and gain bowl eligibility next Saturday in the return to Autzen Stadium of ex-head coach Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins. Kick-off is set for 4:30 pm and will be carried by Fox.
~ Rick Morgan