EUGENE, Ore. – The Arizona Wildcats couldn’t stop Oregon’s rushing attack. They couldn’t unleash Khalil Tate. And they couldn’t flip the field.
All of those problems added up to a 48-28 loss to the Ducks on Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
The loss was Arizona’s second in the past three games. It dropped the Wildcats to 7-4, 5-3 in the Pac-12 entering next week’s regular-season finale at Arizona State. The Sun Devils improved to 6-5 after winning up the road at Oregon State earlier Saturday.
Oregon improved to 6-5, 3-5.
Arizona trailed 35-28 entering the fourth quarter but was outscored 13-0 in the final period.
The Ducks generally held Khalil Tate in check, limiting him to 32 rushing yards – by far his lowest total since taking over as Arizona’s quarterback. He competed 18 of 35 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted twice.
Oregon, meanwhile, rushed for 353 yards. Both Royce Freeman and Tony Brooks-James topped 100 yards on the ground.
All three of Arizona’s starting defensive linemen – Justin Belknap, Luca Bruno and Dereck Boles – got hurt during the game and did not return. Another D-lineman, Parker Zellers, did not make the trip after breaking a team rule.
Quarterback Justin Herbert returned to the lineup for Oregon after missing the previous four-plus games. He passed for a touchdown and ran for one.
Primarily because of poor punting, the Ducks started six drives at their 43-yard line or better.
EUGENE, Ore. – The Arizona Wildcats aren’t playing their best ball, but they remain within striking distance of Oregon.
The Cats trail the Ducks 35-28 entering the fourth quarter of their game Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
Arizona continued to have trouble slowing Oregon’s rushing attack. The Ducks have rushed for 265 yards and four touchdowns.
Oregon drove 94 yards to expand its halftime lead to 35-21. Every play except one was a rush. Royce Freeman’s 11-yard TD run to the left side capped the drive.
The Wildcats responded on their next possession, going 75 yards in eight plays. The biggest: Khalil Tate’s 19-yard pass to Shawn Poindexter. That advanced the ball to the Oregon 9. Two plays later and a pass-interference penalty later, Zach Green plowed in from the 2 to make it 35-28.
Oregon will attempt a 40-yard field goal when the fourth quarter begins.
EUGENE, Ore. – The Arizona Wildcats trail Oregon 28-21 at the end of a wild, back-and-forth first half Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
The game has featured three ties and three lead changes.
Nick Wilson has two rushing touchdowns for Arizona. Khalil Tate has a passing TD but also has thrown an interception. He has completed 8 of 15 passes for 77 yards. He has just 18 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert has thrown for a touchdown and run for one. Royce Freeman has rushed for 84 yards and two scores.
Arizona trailed 14-7 early in the second quarter when Dane Cruikshank intercepted Herbert at the UA 32-yard line. A wall formed, and Cruikshank returned the pick for an apparent touchdown.
But Cruikshank held the ball up and waved at an Oregon player at the 4-yard line, drawing an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. Instead of a touchdown, Arizona took over at the 19. An infuriated Rich Rodriguez screamed at Cruikshank when he came to the UA sideline.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, they scored anyway. Three plays later, Tate hit Tony Ellison for a 15-yard touchdown. After the drive concluded, Rodriguez stomped to the UA bench area and got in Cruikshank’s face again.
After forcing a three-and out – thanks to a third-down sack by Kylan Wilborn – Arizona took the lead. Wilson’s second touchdown run, from 20 yards out, made it 21-14 with 9:08 left in the half.
Oregon tied it on the next possession. Herbert, with plenty of time to throw, connected with tight end Jacob Breeland for a 40-yard touchdown. Breeland got behind UA safety Demetrius Flanning-Fowles.
The Ducks went ahead on Royce Freeman’s 28-yard touchdown run. It came one play after the Wildcats were guilty of pass interference in the end zone on third-and-16.
After intercepting Tate, Oregon took over at the UA 32. Consecutive holding penalties pushed the Ducks back to their 48. They had plenty of time to try to a Hail Mary but elected to let the clock run out.
EUGENE, Ore. – The Arizona Wildcats trail Oregon 14-7 entering the second quarter of their game Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
Arizona continues to have trouble stopping the run, including allowing a 40-yard touchdown to Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert. Oregon has 124 rushing yards on 13 attempts.
Arizona executed extraordinarily well on its first drive. The Wildcats went 83 yards in 11 plays and didn’t face a third down. Khalil Tate completed 4 of 4 passes for 32 yards. Nick Wilson capped the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run.
Oregon struck back on the ensuing possession. Justin Herbert, back in the starting lineup for the first time since Sept. 30, scrambled away from pressure and scooted down the left sideline for the tying TD.
The Ducks twice started drives in Wildcats territory because of poor special-teams coverage. The first ended with Oregon punting from the UA 35-yard line. The second ended with Royce Freeman’s 4-yard TD run.
Arizona defensive end Justin Belknap injured his left knee late in the first quarter, further depleting the Wildcats’ defensive line. Defensive tackle Parker Zellers did not make the trip because of a violation of team rules.
Tate drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty after mixing it up with Oregon defensive tackle Hendry Mondeaux.
The Arizona Wildcats (7-3) battle the Oregon Ducks (5-5) for a Pac-12 showdown in Eugene. Saturday's matchup will be the first time Oregon head coach Willie Taggart and Rich Rodriguez face off.
Quarterback Justin Herbert returns to the starting lineup after being out since Sept. 30 from fracturing his left collar bone, which is his non-throwing shoulder so Arizona won't have a chance to play against freshman and ex-UA commit Braxton Burmeister, who replaced Herbert for the last five games.
For the last two years, the Wildcats dealt with key injuries on a weekly basis, but it's now the 11th game of the season and only two players are out: freshmen JB Brown (ankle) and Kurtis Brown (illness).
A healthy Arizona team with Khalil Tate playing for an invite to New York with hopes of being in the final Heisman race should call for an interesting evening at Autzen Stadium.
The Wildcats and Ducks are set for a 5 p.m. kickoff and the game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.
For live in-game updates, follow the Wildcaster on Twitter.