Arizona football: Defense pulls out all the stops in fourth quarter

Arizona's Sione Tuihalamaka tackles Utah's John White IV. UA shut out the Utes in the fourth quarter.


The Arizona Wildcats have celebrated at midfield of the Los Angeles Coliseum, their cheers drowning out USC's famed marching band. They've stolen games from a ranked Stanford team and a squad of sinking Sun Devils. They've beaten Bears and Bruins and Cougars and Huskies.

Oregon is the final frontier.

Since 2009, Arizona has defeated eight of its nine original Pac-10 opponents - everybody except the Ducks.

Oregon is a perfect 4-0 against the Wildcats since 2008, including a 2009 overtime victory that may have kept the UA from its first Rose Bowl.

"We're definitely thinking about using that as motivation," said senior guard Trace Biskin, who is 0-4 in his career against the Ducks. "We're going up there with a mentality of, (it's) us against the world."

The 22nd-ranked Wildcats (3-0) will have to contend with these three things Saturday, when they travel to Eugene for a nationally televised game against No. 3 Oregon:

1. The "Blur": The Ducks' spread-option offense is, again, among the best in the nation.

Oregon (3-0) ranks fifth nationally in scoring offense, having posted 23 touchdowns and 162 points. Sophomore running back De'Anthony Thomas is tied for first in the country with seven touchdowns.

Coach Chip Kelly's "Blur" offense can strike quickly. Consider: The Ducks have 10 "explosion plays" (their term) of 25 or more yards so far this season; four have gone for touchdowns.

"They thrive on big plays, and always have. They have guys that can take it," UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Having explosive players brings a lot of benefit. We have some good players, but do we have a lot of explosive guys? I don't know yet."

2. Autzen Stadium: Oregon's home stadium ranks among the nation's loudest, most hostile venues. And Ducks fans take football seriously: 57,091 fans crammed into Autzen for last weekend's win over hapless Tennessee Tech.

The standing-room only crowd was Oregon's 85th consecutive sellout dating to 1999.

"The crowd will be into it, I'm sure, with it being a Saturday night and on national TV," said Rodriguez, who is making his first trip to Eugene. "It's going to be loud."

Arizona's players seem to enjoy the challenge, even though they haven't won in Eugene since 2006.

"Every time we go up there, it is always an experience," Biskin said. "They have a great atmosphere up there. It's really loud and really hectic."

3. Perception: From their uniforms to their crowds to their rankings, the Ducks are built to intimidate any team hoping to hang in Eugene.

Oregon has won 33 of 37 home games since Kelly arrived in 2007; in eight games against Top 25 teams, the Ducks are 7-1.

Arizona will try to snap that streak.

"It's win or lose. That's what this game is about," quarterback Matt Scott said. "We're going up there to win. We're going up there with the mindset that we're going to take the W."

The last time Arizona beat …

Arizona State: Nov. 19, 2011 (Arizona 31, ASU 27)

Cal: Sept. 25, 2010 (Arizona 10, Cal 9)

Colorado: Sept. 27, 1986 (Arizona 24, Colorado 21)

Oregon: Nov. 15, 2007 (Arizona 34, Oregon 24)

Oregon State: Sept. 26, 2009 (Arizona 37, OSU 32)

Stanford: Oct. 17, 2009 (Arizona 43, Stanford 38)

Utah: Sept. 14, 2002 (Arizona 23, Utah 17)

USC: Dec. 5, 2009 (Arizona 21, USC 17)

UCLA: Oct. 20, 2011 (Arizona 48, UCLA 12)

Washington: Oct. 23, 2010 (Arizona 44, Washington 14)

Washington State: Oct. 16, 2010 (Arizona 24, WSU 7)

Note: Colorado and Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011.

On Oregon's trail

The Arizona Wildcats haven't defeated Oregon in their last four tries, but they've come (relatively) close. Here's a look at how the Wildcats and Ducks have fared when facing each other in recent years:

Date Score Location

Nov. 15, 2008 Oregon 55, Arizona 45 Autzen Stadium

Nov. 21, 2009 Oregon 44, Arizona 41 (overtime) Arizona Stadium

Nov. 26, 2010 Oregon 48, Arizona 29 Autzen Stadium

Sept. 24, 2011 Oregon 56, Arizona 31 Arizona Stadium

Up next

• Who: No. 22 Arizona at No. 3 Oregon

• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

• TV; radio: ESPN; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM