Best of Social Media: Arizona vs. Oregon
Last season, the #19 Ducks (5-1) headed down to Tucson as a -7.5 favorite over Arizona (2-5) and ended the night as a big loser, 44-15. The season, #6 Oregon entered the game as huge favorites (-24) over the 4-5 Arizona Wildcats. If last year taught the Ducks anything, it is that you have to show up every week in the Pac-12. To compound things, the ranked Ducks have had a bad recent history of facing an unranked Arizona squad, going 0-3 (2013 - #5, 2014 - #2, and 2018). Regardless of what other Pac-12 teams would do in Week 13, a win against the Wildcats would lock up the Pac-12 North division for the Ducks.
Oregon has managed to simplify the uniforms while also keeping their design edge. The different color helmets, jerseys, and pants allow for a number of combinations, but all the selections have looked crisp this year. Oregon has also made it a practice to highlight one of the players to model the uniforms, with no problem using big men on the offensive or defensive line. This week they put their star safety, Jevon Holland, in the spotlight.
Oregon was coming off their most impressive game of the season, one capable of filling an entire 3-plus minute highlight video. The Ducks would look to continue to build on this effort as they have continually admitted they haven't played their best football yet. USC would help Oregon later Saturday as they dismantled Cal, helping bolster Oregon's case for a playoff spot.
Oregon's offense wasted no time getting on the board, scoring on the second play from the line of scrimmage. With no safety help over the top, both Wildcat defenders bit down on the Justin Herbert pump to the sideline receiver, allowing Johnny Johnson III to run alone down the field. Sometimes you see a receiver and quarterback miss on these ones because they are too open, but not today as Herbert nailed Johnson in stride, and Johnson finished the 73-yard TD.
Oregon was able to punch in a second TD in the first quarter, a one-yard run from Cyrus Habibi-Likio. Although not highlight worthy, Cyrus just keeps doing what he does, scoring touchdowns.
On the possession prior to the third TD, Oregon squandered a golden opportunity, going from a first and goal on the 3 to a missed FG. Had they finished that drive, Herbert and some of the other starters might have gotten more rest in this one. The Ducks went to the bag of tricks to pull away a bit in this one, going with the double-reverse flea flicker. The play didn't create a huge amount of separation, but Herbert threw an absolute dime to Juwan Johnson for the 53-yard touchdown.
Arizona was able to notch a couple of field goals at the end of the first half, and while the game was never in doubt, a perfectly placed ball to the back shoulder of TE Spencer Webb pretty much sealed this one. This play was set up by the fake WR screen to the opposite side while the TE went on the wheel route. Webb put up his third TD of the season and Herbert continued to show why he will be a top 10 pick.
To cap off the scoring, Oregon ran the perfect play on 3rd down, catching a blitzing Arizona defense and allowing Travis Dye to score his first touchdown on the season. Oregon loves to get everyone involved, and Dye became the 19th Duck this season to score a TD. A missed extra point after this one continued to highlight the kicking woes of Oregon. Much like the kicking game, consistency was an issue for the offense, but they got the win in the end.
Arizona entered this game averaging 495.8 yards per game and 4.3 touchdowns per game. Tonight, Oregon limited Arizona to 240 yards of offense and no touchdowns. The dominating performance included 6 sacks, a season high for the Ducks. While the offense might have showed some inconsistency, the defense played one of their better games of the season.
Oregon clinches the Pac-12 North with two more games to play. It has been really amazing how the Pac-12 North has played out this season. The pre-season second place team in the North, Washington, was mathematically eliminated from winning the North in Week 10. At this point, if Oregon beats OSU and WSU wins out (OSU and UW), the North will have exactly one team (Oregon) with a winning record in conference. Oregon State was the only thing preventing the Ducks from clinching the North sooner.