The No. 3 Oregon Ducks entered their conference opener against the No. 22 ranked Arizona Wildcats with some questions surrounding their defense and their ability to close games early in the season. While the conference opener against an improved Arizona squad under first year coach Rich Rodriguez may not have been able to completely dispel all of those questions, it could go a long way given Rodriguez' prodigious early season offense at Arizona.
The Duck offense was out of synch early. After regaining the ball inside their own 15 yard line, Marcus Mariota fumbled the ball back to the Wildcats at the 11 yard line but the Ducks quickly turned the tide with an Ifo Ekpre-Olumu interception.
After the interception the Ducks marched down the field to open the scoring on a 17 yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Daryle Hawkins to give the Ducks an early 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing drive the Wildcats, with the aid of penalties, once again moved the ball inside the Duck 5 yard line but were unable once again to capitalize when a fourth and goal attempt failed.
Oregon mistakes kept Arizona in the game early. After moving the ball out of the shadow of its own end zone, De'Anthony Thomas fumbled the ball back to the Wildcats. once again, though, the Duck defense stiffened and blocked a Wildcat field goal attempt.
The Wildcats offense, which seemed to move well in between the twenty yard lines had difficulty inside the red zone.
Oregon extended the lead with a 27 yard field goal with just under six minutes left in the first half.
In a first half that did not see near the offensive fireworks that many expected, teh Ducks took a 13-0 lead into the half after a second Rob Beard field goal from 41 yards with less than a minute to play in the second quarter.
Arizona opened the second half much the same way as the first with some success followed quickly by a Duck stop. After a quick first down, the Ducks punted right back and the first half defensive struggle seemed to be back for both teams.
Arizona worked hard to neutralize De'Anthony Thomas. Two times early in the third quarter, the Wildcats were able to keep the ball away from Thomas on punts, first with a quick kick on fourth and three and then with a beautiful 61 yard punt.
The Duck offense got a jolt from De'Anthony Thomas' 38 ya5rd punt return and quickly turned it into points with a 35 yard pass to Colt Lyerla and a 1 yard touchdown run by Colt Lyerla. A quick two point conversion took the lead to 21-0 midway through the third quarter.
The Duck defense continued to be stingy. Kiko Alonso intercepted Matt Scott late in the third quarter and the Duck offense struck quickly with a two play 59 yard drive capped by a 57 pass to freshman Bralon Addison.
The Duck defense just kept coming in waves as Ifo Ekpre-Olumu intercepted Scott on the next possession and returned it 54 yards for his first career touchdown to put the Ducks up 35-0 early in the fourth quarter .
After another crucial stop on fourth and short, the Ducks took over intent on running out as much of the clock as possible with just over ten minutes left in the game. Taking the ball 86 yards in 12 plays and 6:35 time of possession to extend the lead to 42-0 with just over four minutes left in the game.
From there, the outcome was academic, but the Duck defense wanted to finish the game and shutout the high powered Arizona offense. The defense was not done scoring as they added yet another defensive touchdown on Troy Hill's 29 yard interception return on the very next play for Arizona.
The Wildcats, who came in averaging 596 yards of total offense per game were held to nearly half that total as the Wildcats put up just 332yards of total offense. The running game was largely absent for the Wildcats as they gained just 2.8 yards per carry. Without the threat of the run, Matt Scott, who came into the contest averaging 331 yards per game through the air, finished the game 23-45 for 212 yards and 3 costly interceptions.
Oregon would force a final 3 and out and run the clock out to secure their first conference shutout since 2003 with the 49-0 drubbing over the No. 22 ranked Arizona Wildcats.
Oregon, now 4-0, takes to the road for the first time next week for a neutral site game in Seattle against the Washington State Cougars.