There's a dangerous history the Ducks know all too well when it concerns playing Arizona. So the Wildcats' 31-24 win on Thursday night in Autzen Stadium maybe wasn't hard to predict, but it certainly was stunning for a team that never quite showed it could beat the Pac-12 powerhouse in any of its prior four games.
Arizona has some big-time wins over the past 10 years: pic.twitter.com/XBVVhYAyVa— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 3, 2014
This is where Arizona stands: atop the Pac-12 (the Wildcats haven't been 5-0 since 1998) along with UCLA with a redshirt freshman quarterback whose poise came through in arguably the conference's most difficult place to play.
More than that, the Wildcats dominated the ground game, punishing the Ducks with 208 rush yards and 55 attempts between Terris Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson.
The play of the game: Nic Grigsby's most famous play a few years ago was a 3rd-and-17 play that went 57 yards for a late touchdown to beat Stanford. On Thursday night, his half brother, Jones-Grigsby, burst out on a risky handoff play. TJG raced 24 yards on a 3rd-and-20 to make up for a few UA penalties. The Wildcats used a few Oregon penalties to punch in a touchdown for a 31-24 lead.
Jones-Grigsby finished with 115 yards on 27 totes and a score while leading UA with 95 yards on four receptions. Wilson left with an injury late, but not before rushing 13 times for 92 yards and two scores.
Defense, kicking, punts -- Arizona football: The Wildcats led 3-0 after the first quarter. Copy that? Arizona stymied Oregon's run game and forced Mariota to lay back in the pocket as the 3-3-5 dropped back into coverage. Generally, it worked quite well after the Ducks' first two plays of the game. UO put together a run average of 2.2 yards per carry in the first quarter and the Wildcats followed a 4th-down conversion stop with a field goal from Casey Skowron. Later, Drew Riggleman boomed a punt 59 yards. Solomon, in the second quarter, booted a pooch punt 48 yards to the Ducks' 1-yard line.
Maybe the biggest defensive play for the Wildcats was a red zone stop by the UA defense that yielded a 21-yard Ducks field goal minutes into the fourth quarter. That, and a forced fumble by Scooby Wright in the final minutes.
Setting the (hard) edge: Bouncing to the outside got Arizona some good yardage in the first half, and in the second Oregon did little to change that fact. Wilson and Jones-Grigsby got to the outside a few times in the early third quarter, and the Wildcats got their first touchdown to go ahead 10-7 just two minutes into the second half.
Marcus Mariota was not like himself: First, it was a near-interception by Jarvis McCall Jr. that was dropped. Then, Mariota flipped a lateral backward while being tackled and nearly turned it over. Then, on Oregon's first score that put them ahead 10-3, Mariota nearly fumbled on a strip attempt by Jared Tevis, but the officials ruled the ball had crossed the plane of the end zone before the Oregon quarterback lost control. All near big plays for Arizona that didn't happen. Thankfully, they started to work out in the second half.
WHAT IS HAPPENING: UA corner Johnathan McKnight was called for a pass interference after an obvious tipped ball by Dan Pettinato. On the play after the missed call, Pettinato hit Mariota from behind to force a fumble that UA recovered. And on the first offensive snap after the fumble recovery, Solomon caught his own pass that was battle down at the line before taking off for a 21-yard gain.
At the half ... : The longest play for Arizona was Anu Solomon's pass to Anu Solomon. Oregon's was running back Royce Freeman's pass to Mariota for the 26-yard pass play. Weird.
A turn of luck: Jourdon Grandon earned a taunting penalty in the red zone just as it seemed UA had stopped the Ducks early in the third quarter. It gave Oregon a first down, and Mariota found Devon Allen in the end zone for a score to go ahead 14-10. Later on, it was Oregon getting an iffy call after a big defensive stop. With three minutes to play on 3rd and long, Solomon was sacked by Ducks lineman Tony Washington, but he was called for another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to keep UA's drive alive. The resulting score became the Wildcats' final score.