This weekend, it’s Arizona football against the world
This story is courtesy of the Arizona Daily Wildcat
No. 22 Arizona travels to Eugene, Ore., Saturday to take on No. 3 Oregon for another chance to prove itself in its first road game of the season.
For the Wildcats’ seniors, this game means more than that.
Since 2009, the Wildcats have beaten every original Pac-10 team except one — the Ducks.
“We’re definitely thinking about that. That’s definitely our motivation,” right guard Trace Biskin said. “And we’re going up there kind of with the mentality that it’s us against the world.”
During practice Sunday, Biskin brought that point up to his teammates. Senior center Kyle Quinn said his peers have taken it to heart.
“We’re going to be motivated to going up there and trying to take one from [Oregon’s] house,” Quinn said.
Arizona has toppled USC, taken down Stanford (even with Andrew Luck under center) and disposed of the rest of the Pac-10 characters during the last four years.
But even for redshirt seniors like Quinn, Biskin and quarterback Matt Scott, the Wildcats have never finished an Oregon game with the scoreboard glowing brightly in their favor.
“They have a great program,” Quinn said. “They’re well coached and have some great athletes, but they’re still just a football team.
“You have to go out there and play fast. You can’t play scared. You can’t play hesitant because that’s when you get beat and when good teams take advantage of you.”
It’s not like Arizona hasn’t been close — in 2009 the ZonaZoo assumed the game was over as time started winding down.
The Wildcats led No. 11 Oregon 31-24 in 2009 with just 2 minutes and 58 seconds remaining, leaving the Ducks with just one final drive to tie it up.
Arizona fans jumped over the wall that separates the crowd from the field and stood by the sideline in anticipation to storm the field, only to watch in horror as the Ducks methodically drove down and sent the game to overtime.
Oregon prevailed 44-41 in double overtime and spoiled the Wildcats’ best chance at a win, considering they lost by an average of 22 points in their next two meetings. Oh, and the loss also ruined the Wildcats’ first ever shot at making the Rose Bowl.
“There’s been a couple years where we’ve been close and lost by just a couple of mental mistakes,” senior wide receiver Terrence Miller said. “So for us it’s going to be really big being focused, playing physical, playing fast, doing all the things that we’ve always done — just eliminating the minor mistakes that we’ve had.”
Fullback and defensive end Taimi Tutogi experienced that 2009 loss, as he was a true freshman when he rushed the ball once for a yard.
“We hang with them every time we play them,” Tutogi said. “But this, it being our last year, my last year, I want to go out and, especially a team like this, get a win and keep going on through the season. We treat this team like everybody else, so we’re just going to play hard as we always do.”
The fact that the Ducks have Arizona’s number isn’t all that surprising. Oregon has been the most dominant team in the conference the past three years, winning three straight titles during the stretch, both in the old Pacific 10 Conference and the newer Pac-12.
This year the story is no different — Oregon has a high-flying offense, a sneaky good defense and the highest ranking in the Pac-12 according to The Associated Press poll.
The Ducks employ deadly speed at the skill positions, especially in running backs Kenjon Barner and Heisman candidate De’Anthony Thomas, plus dual-threat quarterback Marcus Mariota.
“They do a good job of putting the pressure on you,” Miller said, who is listed as questionable for Saturday. “I think sometimes you get people out of whack when they start running up the score, but you just have to stay focused and do your job and you’ll be fine.”