UA dealt 'embarrassing' shutout by Oregon

BY foxsports • September 23, 2012

TUCSON, Ariz. — It was a night of missed opportunities for Arizona.

Hopelessness, too. There were missed field goals, failed fourth-down tries and, by the end, a tired defense as No. 3 Oregon ran away late, turning a close game into a 49-0 rout.

UA coach Rich Rodriguez called his team’s offensive performance “embarrassing’’ just a week after a 56-0 blowout of South Carolina State.

For 30-some minutes, what looked like the makings of potential upset for the Wildcats turned into a frustrating loss to the No. 3 Ducks.

Upset special? Hardly. The Wildcats (3-1) had their winning streak snapped at five games.

“It’s embarrassing,’’ Rodriguez said in his postgame radio show. “Our execution offensively was embarrassing. We have to be able to finish drives (and) kick a field goal. Our defense played its tail off, for the most part. I’m just embarrassed because we did such a poor job as coaching getting this offense to finish drives.’’

The red zone turned into the dead zone for the Wildcats, who went 0-for-6 inside the Ducks' 20-yard line Saturday night. No other explanation is necessary.

It was Arizona’s first shutout defeat since a 33-0 loss to Nebraska in the 2009 Holiday Bowl and worst blanking since a 54-0 thomping by No. 3 Washington in 1991. It was also UA's first conference shutout since a 38-0 rout at the hands of California in 2004.

After three consecutive home victories to open the year, the Wildcats went on the road and received a rude greeting from the Ducks. Oregon might climb to No. 2 in the polls after current No. 2 LSU's narrow 12-10 win over Auburn.

For Arizona, likely to fall from the rankings, it’ll be good to return home next week to face Oregon State.

No. 3 Oregon, rarely a team that leaves opportunities on the field, did just that Saturday night at Autzen Stadium — at least in the first half. The Quack Attack was, well, a bit out of whack.

Fumbles. Dropped balls. And an uncharacteristic lack of big plays (those were saved for later).

Credit Arizona’s defense, one that just six weeks ago was considered nonexistent. Who would have thought the Wildcats would hold the Ducks' high-powered offense to just 13 first-half points?

Because of that, Arizona was within striking distance at halftime despite missing an early field-goal attempt, having another blocked and getting stopped on a fourth-and-goal from the 2 on a play that wasn't supposed to happen, as Rodriguez was attempting to call timeout just before the snap.

“If we would have finished (a couple of those drives) inside the 25 (in the first half), we probably would have had the lead,’’ Rodriguez said. “We had the ball (to start) the second half. We just had to execute better. It just wasn’t there.’’

Arizona had five turnovers, including three interceptions by Matt Scott, who finished 22 for 44 for 210 yards. Two were returned for touchdowns.

Those mistakes were all the Ducks needed to turn doubt into a rout. Oregon scored 36 second-half points and finished with 495 total yards (despite three turnovers), making it clear that while UA has come a long way, there's still an equally long way to go to reach Oregon's level. Once the Ducks found their footing, they were off to the races.

The Wildcats were in bend-but-don’t-break mode all night, and while it appeared they'd hang around, eventually, their defense broke, as the offense was simply too ineffective.

Arizona finished with 332 total yards, barely half its season average of 604 yards coming in.