The Ducks ran their winning streak to five games Saturday, with a 49-22 victory over Arizona. Oregon scored touchdowns on seven straight possessions between the first and third quarters at Arizona Stadium, improving to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in Pac-12 play.
That left Oregon as one of three unbeaten teams remaining in conference play, along with USC and UCLA. Those Bruins, led by head coach Chip Kelly, visit Autzen Stadium on Oct. 22, after both teams rest up over upcoming bye weeks.
“This week is a week for us to attack Oregon,” UO coach Dan Lanning said. “We have all the respect in the world for the team we’re about to play, but the biggest team that we can affect is us. So that’s really going to be our focus this next week.”
Saturday’s game set up as a showdown between Arizona’s explosive passing offense and the power of Oregon’s rushing attack. That battle ended up being one-sided, as Oregon had five different players combine to rush for seven touchdowns, led by three from quarterback Bo Nix.
Oregon finished the game with 306 rushing yards, a week after rushing for 351 against Stanford. The Ducks also threw for 274 yards, giving them 580 yards of total offense, just shy of their season-high 624 in the win at Washington State.
The UO defense held Arizona to 241 passing yards, well off the Wildcats’ season average of 340.
“Complete game,” Lanning said. “Certainly some moments that we went back. But overall our team is getting better.”
After Arizona opened the game with a field goal, Noah Whittington knifed through Arizona’s defense on a 55-yard touchdown run that got the Ducks started with 2:53 left in the first quarter. Nix ran for his first touchdown of the game early in the second, and Moliki Matavao became the first UO tight end since 2013 to rush for a touchdown when he scored on a fly sweep later in the second quarter.
The Wildcats responded with their first touchdown of the night, but the Ducks put a stranglehold on the game by dominating the “middle-8” from late in the first half to early in the second. Jordan James ran for a touchdown with 34 seconds left in the first half, and though Arizona tacked on a field goal to pull within 28-13 at halftime, the Ducks then opened the second half by driving to another Nix rushing touchdown for a 35-13 lead .
An interception by freshman Jahlil Florence got possession back for the Ducks and set up Bucky Irving’s 23-yard scoring run. Bennett Williams sacked Arizona QB Jayden de Laura moments later, forcing a fumble that Keyon Ware-Hudson recovered to set up yet another rushing touchdown by Nix.
That came with 5:04 left in the third quarter and gave the Ducks a 49-13 lead. The Wildcats scored the final nine points of the night as Oregon rotated younger players in on both sides of the ball.
“I actually didn’t even know we scored on seven straight,” center Alex Forsyth said. “You just kind of roll with it, and once you get in that groove it kind of feels natural. Credit (offensive coordinator Kenny) Dillingham for calling a phenomenal game and having us prepared.”
Individually, Nix finished 20-of-25 passing for 265 yards, and had eight rushes for 70 yards and three touchdowns. Whittington accounted for 92 yards on the ground, on just six carries, James rushed for 69 yards and Irving rushed for 67.
Trikweze Bridges and Jamal Hill had five tackles each to lead the UO defense, and Christian Gonzalez had four playing a new role for him, as the slot corner in Oregon’s nickel defense. Williams, Florence, Justin Flowey, Jeffrey Bassa and DJ Johnson also had four tackles, with Williams and Bassa each recording a sack.
A week after committing 14 penalties in the win over Stanford, many on the UO offensive line, the Ducks committed just six Saturday — none on the offensive line.
“You get what you emphasize, right?” Lanning said. “And if we see a wart, we want to go fix it. That being said, there’s a lot of things that we can continue to fix.”