Oregon’s offensive line has caused Marcus Mariota all sorts of problems. On Thursday night at Autzen Stadium, the inexperienced line created a major roadblock to the College Football Playoff for the Ducks as Arizona upset No. 2 Oregon 31-24. The loss was Oregon’s first against an unranked team at home in six years.
Oregon had won 28 straight home games against unranked teams. This is their first such loss since September of 2008.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 3, 2014
It was Arizona’s rushing attack that tore apart Oregon’s defense as Terris Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson combined for 40 carries, 207 yards and three touchdowns.
Marcus Mariota once again had the bucket of chum thrown on him in the middle of shark-infested waters as he was sacked five times, including a crucial sack on Oregon’s final drive that led to a fumble, icing the upset win for Arizona.
On Oregon’s opening drive, the Ducks marched easily into Arizona territory, moving along at the usual blistering pace. Oregon’s second play from scrimmage burned just 10 seconds off the play clock. Oregon was forced to go for it on 4th down twice during the drive. On the second attempt, Byron Marshall dropped a perfectly placed pass with no one even remotely close to him. Plays like this are why I think quarterbacks shouldn’t be penalized with an incomplete pass on a blatant drop.
On Arizona’s opening drive, the Wildcats drove into the red zone, but were forced to settle for a 28-yard field goal to open the scoring.
Needing a stop on defense to prevent potentially going down early by two scores, Reggie Daniels came up with an athletic diving interception complete with a toe tap to give Oregon the ball back.
That INT by Reggie Daniels is going to be secondary coach John Neal's screensaver.— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) October 3, 2014
After being backed up by a false start penalty by Hroniss Grasu, Mariota was sacked again, forcing the Ducks to punt. Oregon’s biggest weakness is obviously their offensive line, and if that line doesn’t get their act together soon, we’re looking at a 2007 Dennis Dixon situation. A man can only take so many hits before his body breaks.
At the end of the first quarter, Arizona held a 3-0 lead. Not exactly the score we all expected from these two high-flying offenses.
Going into the season, I’d never guess that Wyoming and Arizona would be the two teams to hold the Ducks scoreless after 1Q. #ORvAZ— Andrew Bantly (@andrewbantly) October 3, 2014
The Ducks began the second quarter with a boom. Royce Freeman used the truck stick on Arizona’s Jarvis McCall Jr. My body just hurts watching this hit.
Freeman then took a pitch from Marcus Mariota and returned the ball right back, hitting Mariota for a 26-yard touchdown pass. The ball was stripped from Mariota’s hands, but it was ruled that he had already broken the plane as Oregon took a 7-3 lead.
Five minutes into the second quarter, Ark Armstead was forced to leave the game with a left ankle injury. By the time he had gotten from the sideline to the tunnel, Armstead had a noticeable limp going.
Marcus Mariota also continued to take a beating in the pocket. Mariota took a huge hit from behind as Dan Pettinato forced a fumble. It was the first time this year that Mariota has been responsible for a turnover.
Anu Solomon drove the Wildcats into the red zone again before Terris Jones-Grigsby fumbled the ball on a botched zone read at Oregon’s 10-yard line, the first time this year that Arizona had lost a fumble. The turnover allowed Oregon to go into the locker room with a 7-3 lead at halftime. Something tells me the 17 people who took the under in this game would be coming out as winners.
Over/Under for Arizona-Oregon was 82. It's 7-3 at half.— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) October 3, 2014
Arizona began the second half by moving into the red zone with ease, starting with a 26-yard run by Nick Wilson and ending with a two-yard touchdown run by Wilson.
On Oregon’s next drive, Hell actually froze over. That’s because the Ducks successfully executed a corner fade in the end zone as Devon Allen came down with a touchdown pass to put Oregon back out in front 14-10.
Just as the crowd was getting back into things on a big 3rd down play for Arizona, Solomon found Jones-Grigsby on the wheel route for 54 yards, setting up a 1st and Goal.
Oregon struggled with penalties all night, including a pass interference on 3rd and Goal on Ifo Ekpre-Olomu gave the Wildcats a fresh set of downs. Arizona capped of the 9-play, 93-yard scoring drive with a 2-yard run by Nick Wilson to give the Wildcats a 17-14 lead.
Oregon would go 3-and-out on their next drive after three straight runs, including one up the middle on 3rd and 6 as Scott Frost tried to catch Arizona napping. The play calling drew boos from the stands as Oregon was forced to punt it away.
Arizona capitalized with another wheel route, this time to Nick Wilson who took it 34 yards to the end zone, giving Arizona a 24-14 lead with just over a minute and a half to go in the third quarter.
Oregon began their next drive with a series of big plays, going 74 yards in just four plays down the 2-yard line. Instead of trying to get one more play off, the Ducks opted for the breather at the end of the quarter. The result of the next three plays? Run for no gain. Run for no gain (followed by a false start). Run for three yards. As a result, the Ducks were forced to settle for a field goal.
Oregon nearly got a massive break on defense as Ifo Ekpre-Olomu looked to force a fumble. Jones-Grigsby was ruled down, but was stopped for no gain on 4th and 2, giving the Ducks possession while all of Twitter got their "Ball don’t lie" tweet in.
On 4th and 11, Marcus Mariota made the biggest play of the night, hitting Devon Allen for the first down, advancing 28 yards down the field. Two plays later, Mariota hit Keanon Lowe for the game-tying touchdown with just over 8 minutes to go.
On 3rd and 20, Arizona’s trolling level reached expert when they handed it off to Jones-Grigsby who took it 24 yards for the first down.
Tony Washington came in with a clutch sack to force a fourth down, but then the Pac-12 refs struck again. Washington was flagged for excessive celebration and as a result, Twitter blew up (NSFW Warning: Spencer Hall has a potty mouth). Jones-Grigsby finished the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run to give Arizona a 31-24 lead with 2:54 to play.
Marcus Mariota took over with 2:45 and 91 yards in between him and the end zone. Just as the Ducks started to gain momentum, Scooby Wright forced the fifth sack of the night and simultaneously came up with the fumble, completing the upset at Autzen Stadium. Jesse Palmer made a "Scooby Snack" pun and should be immediately fired for it.
Oregon will now need to win out to have a hope of making the College Football Playoff. Next up for the Ducks? No. 8 UCLA on the road next Saturday.