EUGENE, ORE. - Oregon had just made its biggest play of the night when 58,334 Ducks fans rose as one and started chanting the strangest thing.
That … word … is practically blasphemy here, home of the "Blur" offense and college football's fastest, most exciting player. But on a strange, mild night in timber country, Oregon's defense was a buzz-saw. It deserved a curtain call.
The Ducks forced five Arizona turnovers, returning two for touchdowns, and held the Wildcats scoreless in six red-zone trips on the way to a 49-0 win at Autzen Stadium.
It was a blackout for the third-ranked Ducks, and it had nothing to do with the colors their fans were wearing. The shutout win was Oregon's first over Arizona since 1965.
"We have some things to clean up," UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. "I knew before that we hadn't arrived, but it's disappointing that we didn't finish on certain drives tonight."
Things won't get much easier for Arizona, which is sure to fall from its No. 22 national ranking today. The Wildcats (3-1 overall, 0-1 Pac-12) will take on world-beating Oregon State next week before traveling to Stanford. Following a bye week, Arizona will face Washington, USC and UCLA.
UA safety Tra'Mayne Bondurant said the team "came in confident about getting a win, and it's unfortunate it got away from us."
"It didn't go the way we wanted it to, but we have to accept this loss and learn from it," he said. "In 24 hours, we have to get ourselves focused on what it will take to win next week."
The Wildcats had a chance at an upset early Saturday, but failed to score a single point in six trips to the red zone. In their four first-half trips, they:
• Failed to convert on a field goal attempt because the holder, Kyle Dugandzic, muffed the snap.
• Turned the ball over on the Ducks' 11 when quarterback Matt Scott and receiver Dan Buckner ran different plays. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu intercepted Scott's short sideline pass while Buckner ran, open, down the sideline.
Scott completed 22 off 44 passes for 210 yards, and was intercepted three times - twice, the Ducks returned the picks for touchdowns. He left the game in the first quarter with a hip injury, and was seemingly limited upon his return.
• Missed a field goal when John Bonano's attempt went low - and directly into his own linemen.
• Failed to convert on fourth-and-goal from the 2. Ka'Deem Carey took a counter handoff and was stuffed.
"We just didn't execute offensively," Scott said. "We could have had a bunch of points, but didn't finish drives. Our defense gave us a lot of opportunities and we didn't capitalize when we had the chances."
Arizona's red-zone woes were devastating - and somewhat surprising. The team entered Saturday's game having scored in 16 of its 21 red zone attempts; 12 of its trips resulted in touchdowns. The Wildcats were 55 for 60 in the red zone during the entire 2008 season.
Saturday, it was the Ducks that took advantage.
Daryle Hawkins caught a 17-yard pass from Marcus Mariota with 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter and Rob Beard added a pair of field goals in the second, enough points to put the Wildcats away.
The Wildcats' missed opportunities stung even more considering how well their defense played. The blueshirts bottled up the Pac-12's top offense, limiting Oregon's "Blur" attack to a touchdown and two field goals in the first half. Star De'Anthony Thomas got his first chance at a return midway through the third quarter, and promptly returned it 38 yards to Arizona's 37-yard line. The Ducks scored three plays later, making it 19-0, and followed with a two-point conversion pass to their kicker.
Arizona's Jonathan McKnight gave Arizona life with an interception late in the third quarter, but the Wildcats went four-and-out, and the Ducks took over. A two-play, 57-yard drive gave Oregon a 28-0 lead.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu intercepted Scott on Arizona's next possession, and returned the pick 54 yards for a touchdown. Like that, the Wildcats went from hanging to hung.
Oregon's offense came around: The Ducks outgained the Wildcats 495 yards to 332. Mariota completed 20 of 35 passes for 260 yards and two scores. Tight end Colt Lyerla finished with 116 total yards, and scored a touchdown.
Though the score was close through a half, Arizona never seemed to be in the game - though a scoreboard malfunction in the third made it appear (briefly, blissfully) that the game was scoreless with 90:00 left before kickoff.
"We can't afford to not finish against anybody," Rodriguez said. "It's heightened when you play somebody like Oregon, because you know they're going to score."
"Our defense gave us great field position in the first half," he said. "Not to take advantage of that, it's disappointing."
• What: Oregon State at Arizona
• When: 7 p.m. Saturday
• TV: Pac-12 Arizona: Comcast (Ch 103); Cox (Ch 75); Dish Network (Contact for info); DirecTV, not avail.
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp.)