It could be easily said that Arizona could have come into the PAC-12 Championship with all the confidence in the world having defeated Oregon two straight times. But it would be fool to say that Oregon was going to rollover or better yet not play with a chip on one shoulder and the pressure of being Playoff bound on the other. You didn’t see that at all from the Ducks as they will roll into the Rose Bowl Semifinal against Florid State with an extreme amount of confidence after dismantling Arizona in the Conference Championship game 51-13.
Only giving up two field goals in Oregon’s first two possessions; with the second starting in Arizona territory after a fumble on the kickoff return by Arizona returner Tyrell Johnson; the Wildcats had good reason to be optimistic. But the bottom soon fell out from under them. Even with 9 penalties committed by Oregon in the first half; 7 by the offensive line, the Wildcats just couldn’t provide the pressure they did against Oregon in the victory they had against the Ducks earlier in the season.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota started the game off a little slow misfiring on a few passes, but he son showed why he should be the clear cut winner of the Heisman Trophy. Arizona I’m sure thought they were on the field with Houdini with Mariota’s ability to escape and the way he gives the illusion of the ball fake. Mariota padded his stats for his candidacy for Heisman with another convincing performance on a big stage against a highly seeded team while claiming a championship. Mariota went 25-38 for 318 yards and 2 touchdowns with 3 touchdowns on the ground. Is this the look of a Heisman winner?
Arizona didn’t have any answers for the Oregon offense that seem to go up and down the field at will. It could have easily been 35-0 by halftime but the penalties, bad throws and dropped passes for Oregon forced some 3rd down and long situations that ended the early drives with field goals instead of touchdowns only made it 23-0, which was more manageable coming out for the second half.
But it was clear that nothing will stop Oregon on this night, even when Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez decided to go to his back up Jesse Scroggins because starter; freshman Anu Solomon was suffering from injury to his ankle that he re-aggravated last week against Arizona State. Though Scroggins had a 69 yard touchdown pass to Cayleb Jones, he was just as ineffective as he only completed 3 passed for 79 yards. The Oregon defense put a tight hold on the Arizona offense only giving up224 total yards, and a last second rushing touchdown by Jerrard Randall in mop up duty at the end of the game. Oregon running back Royce Freeman had more rushing yards of 114 on 21 carries than Arizona had combined; that’s how dominate Oregon’s defense was in the game.
If the defense that played on in the championship game shows up on January 1st against Florida State; the ‘Noles better look out, because Oregon doesn’t let off the gas; they go full throttle until they know for sure the game is not in doubt.