Arizona Wildcats’ offense struggles in blowout loss to Oregon Ducks
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Justin Herbert threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns and No. 6 Oregon won its ninth straight game and secured a spot in the Pac-12 championship game with a 34-6 victory over Arizona on Saturday night.
Graduate transfer Juwan Johnson caught five passes for 93 yards and a score for the Ducks (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12). Oregon hasn’t won seven straight in conference play to start a season since 2012, and no Pac-12 team has started 7-0 in league play since Stanford in 2015.
The Ducks, ranked No. 6 in both the College Football Playoff rankings and the AP Top 25, haven’t dropped a game since the season-opening loss to Auburn.
With the victory, Oregon secured the Pac-12 North title and a trip to the conference championship game on Dec. 6 in Santa Clara, California. The Ducks’ opponent from the league’s South Division has yet to be determined.
The loss slimmed Arizona’s chances of bowl eligibility. At 4-6 overall and 2-5 in conference, the Wildcats face No. 8 Utah (No. 7 CFP rankings) next Saturday before closing out the season at rival Arizona State.
J.J. Taylor had 17 carries for 74 yards and caught six passes for 55 yards for the Wildcats.
Both teams were coming off byes.
Arizona started freshman Grant Gunnell. Head coach Kevin Sumlin said this week that practice performance would determine whether Gunnell or Khalil Tate would start. Gunnell completed four of six passes for 28 yards.
Tate, who had started eight of Arizona’s previous nine games, started the second quarter and played until Gunnell replaced him with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
Oregon scored on its second play from scrimmage on Herbert’s 73-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Johnson III, the longest passing play for the Ducks this season. Oregon extended the lead before the end of the first quarter on Cyrus Habibi-ikio’s 1-yard scoring run.
Herbert completed a 53-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson on a reverse flea-flicker to put Oregon up 21-0.
The game got chippy in the opening half with Oregon cornerback Thomas Graham and Arizona wide receiver Drew Dixon appearing to exchange punches, earning offsetting unsportsmanlike penalties.
Lucas Havrisik kicked a pair of field goals from 23- and 42-yards out to narrow the gap and Oregon led 21-6 at halftime.
Spencer Webb evaded Arizona linebacker Tony Fields II to pull down Herbert’s 24-yard back-shoulder pass midway through the third quarter. It was Herbert’s 100th career touchdown for the Ducks. He also surpassed 10,000 yards of total offense in the quarter.
A senior, Herbert decided to stay at Oregon for his final year of eligibility. He is expected to be one of the top quarterbacks available in next year’s NFL Draft.
Herbert’s fourth-down pass was tipped and intercepted by Scottie Young Jr., who ran it to the Arizona 48-yard line, but the Wildcats were unable to capitalize on the turnover.
On the subsequent drive, Herbert’s 33-yard scoring pass to Travis Dye put Oregon up 34-6.
Arizona’s J.J. Taylor passed Mike Bell for fifth on Arizona’s career rushing list. Taylor is averaging more than 70 yards a game this season.
Tate moved into fifth place on the Arizona all-time passing yards list in the opening half.
Arizona: The Wildcats host No. 8 Utah next Saturday. The Utes defeated UCLA 49-3 earlier Saturday.
Oregon: The Ducks play Arizona’s other Pac-12 team, the Sun Devils, next Saturday in Tempe. ASU fell to Oregon State, 35-34, in Corvallis.