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After Routing Arizona, Ducks One Step Closer to Epic PAC-12 Championship Game

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Go Ducks!

Arizona v Oregon Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

EUGENE, OREGON

DUCKS 34 - WILDCATS 6

The #6 Oregon Ducks (9-1, 7-0) dominated on offense and defense to defeat the Arizona Wildcats (4-6, 2-5) at Autzen to remain in the playoff picture.

The #6 Ducks held the Wildcats to 240 total yards and six points as they became the sixth team to score less than eight against Oregon. This was not a blowout victory in the fashion of the Chip Kelly era, but a blowout nonetheless as Oregon’s pass-rush suffocated the Wildcat offense and Justin Herbert was able to throw a touchdown in every quarter.

The victory takes Oregon one step closer toward the most anticipated PAC-12 Championship game in its short history. Not that many Duck fans need reminding, but if Utah and Oregon were to finish out their regular season schedule with 11-1 records then the conference championship game could put the winner into the playoffs. Utah has an away game against Arizona before wrapping up the season at home against Colorado. and Oregon has a road trip against Arizona State before the Civil War in Eugene.

Oregon’s clinical win is a testament to the program as anything worse than an 11-1 regular season record would be taken as a huge letdown. Both sides of the ball were dominant against this troubled Arizona squad, however special teams had a poor showing that raised some concern.

NCAA Football: Arizona at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

OREGON PASSING

Justin Herbert: 20/28 - 333 YDS - 1 INT - 4 TD

With Marcus Mariota in attendance, Justin Herbert had another Heisman-like game by tallying four touchdowns through the air. It became clear that it would be a long night for the Wildcat secondary when Herbert connected with Johnny Johnson III for a 73-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the game.

Oregon wasn’t able to replicate that success on their next drive as a screen to Juwan Johnson was blown up for a two-yard loss on first down and the Ducks were forced to punt on 3rd-and-12 two plays later, but a 13-play, 76-yard drive Herbert hit five different receivers for 61 yards before Cyrus Habibi-Likio was able to hammer it in from the two-yard line to score.

The second quarter started out promising, but a missed field goal at the Arizona two-yard line kept it a two-score lead. A 53-yard reverse flea flicker connected with Johnson who made an athletic catch and score that gave the Ducks a 21-0 lead, which felt insurmountable to anybody watching the game.

The Wildcats were able to hit two field goals before the end of the half, but in the third quarter allowed a Spencer Webb 24-yard touchdown reception that was set up with a pump fake towards the flat.

Of course Herbert wasn’t perfect, on a drive that was extended after Wildcat Nazar Bombata ran into the punter, Herbert threw a pick on 4th-and-10 when a tipped ball fell into the hands of Scottie Young Jr. But Arizona was unable to take advantage and on Oregon’s next drive Herbert threw a 33-yard touchdown screen pass to Travis Dye.

Once again, Herbert played well into garbage time, a decision that made some Duck fans nervous, especially in a game where Herbert was sacked three times, but in the end it was another great game from the hometown hero.

NCAA Football: Arizona at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

OREGON RECEIVING

Juwan Johnson: 5 rec - 93 YDS - 53 long - 1 TD

Johnny Johnson III: 4 rec - 89 YDS - 73 long - 1 TD

Jaylon Redd: 3 rec - 44 YDS - 33 long

Travis Dye: 2 rec - 38 YDS - 33 long - 1 TD

Spencer Webb: 2 rec - 27 YDS - 24 long - 1 TD

Josh Delgado: 1 rec - 16 YDS

Brian Addison: 1 rec - 11 YDS

Mycah Pittman: 1 rec - 11 YDS

Darrian Felix: 1 rec - 4 YDS

Johnny Johnson III gained 73 of his 89 yards on his first catch of the game. The blown coverage certainly made the junior’s early touchdown an easier feat, however coming off a season plagued by uncontested drops it was still a noteworthy catch.

It’s clear now that Juwan Johnson was worth the wait. After missing much of the season due to injury, Johnson has once again finished a conference game as the leading receiver and possibly Oregon’s most lethal receiver.

Speaking of large pass-catchers, Spencer Webb continues to make Breeland-esque plays. His 24-yard touchdown reception was the product of a well-run route, a clear size advantage, and some trickery on the part of Herbert.

Travis Dye and Jaylon Redd were effective weapons through the screen game and took advantage of a gassed Wildcat defense. Josh Delgado, Darrian Felix, Brian Addison and Mycah Pittman all caught a pass, though for Pittman it was a costly catch as the freshman suffered what appears to be a serious injury to his right arm.

Arizona v Oregon Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

OREGON RUSHING

Travis Dye: 14 car - 71 YDS - 14 long

CJ Verdell: 11 car - 49 YDS - 12 long

Darrian Felix: 2 car - 20 YDS - 11 long

Cyrus Habibi-Likio: 8 car - 14 YDS - 6 long - 1 TD

Justin Herbert: 4 car - (-16) YDS - 3 long

CJ Verdell didn’t play in the second half due to an injury that was referred to as “a stinger” by coach Cristobal who told the media that he was 100% by the end of the game. The running back also was seen puking on the field. Verdell’s absence led to an increased role for Travis Dye who excelled in this game.

Dye consistently pushed the ball forward, never breaking off a huge run (his long was a 14-yard carry near the beginning of the second quarter) but regularly picking up the necessary yardage for Cristobal’s offense.

Cyrus Habibi-Likio had a vintage CHL game by hammering in a touchdown from the Arizona one-yard line. He also helped the Ducks get out of their own red zone in the fourth quarter with four consecutive carries and then mercifully ended the game with a three-yard run to kill the clock.

Darrian Felix had three good carries in garbage time and, according to the NCAA, Justin Herbert’s three sacks for an accumulative loss of 19 yards are actually run plays, so when you add in his three-yard scramble in third the quarterback finished with a respectable -16 yards.

Oregon wasn’t perfect, but they took advantage of Arizona’s blunders, and there were blunders aplenty.

Arizona v Oregon Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Khalil Tate: 7/16 FG - 50 YDS - 9 car - 19 YDS

Grant Gunnell: 10/14 FG - 82 YDS - 7 car - (-7) YDS

J.J. Taylor: 17 car - 74 YDS - 12 long - 6 rec - 55 YDS - 21 long

Gary Brightwell: 4 car - 20 YDS - 10 long

Scottie Young Jr: 8 tackles - 7 solo - 1 TFL - 1 INT

Tony Fields II: 6 tackles - 4 solo - 1 sack - 1 TFL

Jace Whittaker: 5 tackles - 5 solo - 1 sack - 1 TFL

Grant Gunnell was on the sideline for much of this game, but that was due more to desperation than a reflection of the freshman’s performance. Gunnell played the entire first quarter and then was traded out for Khalil Tate when the Wildcats trailed 14-0, he then reappeared in the fourth quarter to gain some experience. The young QB was under constant pressure and his receivers were having a tough time in Autzen, so it’s reasonable to take comfort if you’re a Wildcat fan in the fact that he didn’t turnover the ball and looked less frantic that the more experienced Tate.

JJ Taylor was Arizona’s most effective weapon against Oregon. He accounted for more than half of the team’s total yards with 74 through the air and 55 on the ground, and without his 47-yard kickoff return it’s doubtful that they score three of their six points.

Oregon gave Arizona a handful of opportunities to claw their way back in this one, but the Wildcats weren’t playing at a level in which they could capitalize. Johnny Johnson III’s early touchdown got things off to a rough start, but a series of special teams mishaps from the Ducks could have resulted in some Wildcat momentum.

Oregon had a 14-0 lead and was at the Arizona 2-yard line when a missed field goal from Camden Lewis gave the Wildcats a shot at making it a one score game. The Ducks’ kickoff coverage totally bought Taylor’s fake handoff, setting up Arizona’s first scoring drive, then a personal foul on Oregon’s proceeding punt aided their second scoring drive, and in the third quarter Jevon Holland fumbled the punt return which Brady Breeze was fortunate enough to land on.

Scottie Young Jr’s interception and 42-yard return at the end of the third quarter is another example of an opportunity squandered by an offense that was completely outmatched. At least coach Kevin Sumlin can point to a promising young freshman when he campaigns for his job in the future.

Arizona v Oregon Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

OREGON DEFENSE

WILDCAT PASSING: 17/30 - 132 YDS

WILDCAT RUSHING: 39 car - 108 YDS - 21 long

WILDCAT 3RD DOWN: 5 of 17

TURNOVERS FORCED: Ducks 1 - Wildcats 0

It’s no secret that Arizona may be the worst team in the PAC-12, but their offense is averaging 470.2 yards even after the Duck defense held them to 240 yards.

The Wildcats were 5-of-17 on 3rd down and 0-2 on 4th down. They averaged 2.8 yards per rush and 4.4 per pass and were forced to punt seven times.

After Arizona’s opening drive stalled on the Oregon 47, the Duck defense kept the visiting team from crossing midfield until JJ Taylor’s 47 yard punt return off the fake handoff. That drive reached the Oregon 8-yard line but was forced to settle for the field goal.

The Wildcats had their final successful drive with 35 seconds left in the second quarter. A couple of big plays from Jamarye Joiner and JJ Taylor setup a 42-yard field goal by Lucas Havrisik, bringing the halftime score to 21-6. Needless to say, but we’ll say it anyways, the Duck defense held them scoreless in the second half. Here is a quick recap of their second half drives:

  • PUNT
  • PUNT
  • FUMBLE
  • PUNT
  • DOWNS
  • DOWNS
Arizona v Oregon Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Ducks may not have forced a turnover, but their outstanding coverage, in addition to their six sacks and nine tackles for a loss, shutdown an offense that featured two quarterbacks and was never able to find its footing.

Troy Dye led the Ducks with seven tackles and one sack, seemingly unphased by his club hand. Kayvon Thibodeaux had one of the best games of his young career as he finished with three tackles for a loss and two sacks. Bryson Young also performed well from the STUD position, finishing with seven tackles. The senior appeared to be hurt for a moment in the second half, but it doesn’t seem to be serious.

ALL-GANG GREEN TEAM

  • Troy Dye: 8 tackles - 6 solo - 1 sack - 1 TFL
  • Brady Breeze: 7 tackles - 5 solo
  • Bryson Young: 7 tackles - 4 solo - .5 sacks - 1.5 TFL
  • Mykael Wright: 5 tackles - 4 solo

NEXT UP: @ ARIZONA STATE

NCAA Football: Arizona at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports