If you are a night owl like me, you stayed up and watch watched Rich Rod’s Arizona Wildcats upset the #2 Oregon Ducks for the second year in a row. The Wildcats rendered almost 60,000 Oregon fans speechless when Marcus Mariota was strip sacked by an Arizona defender as they tried to drive to tie the game and send it to overtime. Arizona entered the game unranked, but they remain there for long as there win in Autzen and undefeated record should place them in the Top 25.
So what does this mean for Oregon? Well in my opinion this likely means they are going to be on the outside looking in on the playoff this year and they again prove their loudest critics right when they say the Ducks don’t have what it takes to run the table. For years Oregon has stood on the table asking for a shot at the SEC and even went as far as selling T-shirts calling out Alabama last year, but they always seem to come up short.
If you can’t beat Stanford consistently and have now taken it on the chin from Arizona two years running, what makes you think you can take on Alabama? As good as Oregon has been they have consistently shown that if you come out and hit them in the mouth they will fold. The high flying offense and speed seems to fade when teams like Stanford get physical with Oregon, it never fails. So when do the coaches adjust and recruit accordingly to prevent these things from happening? If anything they have been stubborn and have been content on staying the course and it ending in the same result every year. I will admit that Oregon has been snake bitten with injuries along the offensive line, so protecting Marcus Mariota has been tough the past couple weeks. But as I was watching the game last night some things stuck out to me about the offensive play calls for Oregon. You come into the game knowing you are deficient on the offensive line and you got a true freshmen protecting the blind side, so instead of adjusting accordingly by putting Mariota on the move on sprint outs, boots, nakeds or even some pop passes you have him sit in the pocket and get teed off on. I loved how Arizona handled their freshmen quarterback on the road in a hostile environment and I think if Oregon would have had a similar game plan I wouldn’t be writing this right now.
The difference in the game ended up being a goal line stand by Arizona in which Oregon tried to run the ball three straight times against a loaded box and ended up kicking the field goal. On top of that Oregon looked confused every time Arizona sent their running back out of the backfield on a route and gave up a first down on 3rd and 20 late in the game on a simple dive play when they needed a stop badly. On top of that, after getting a stop on third down on that same drive the refs threw a questionable flag on Oregon for celebrating after making a big play.
So where do the Ducks go from here? Well with UCLA, Washington and Stanford still on the schedule I would say that their chances of running the table from here on out is slim, but stranger things have happened. I think all three of those teams will give Oregon a run for their money given their current situation along the offensive line and even if they do run the table I’m not sure they make it in with a loss to an unranked team at home. At this point you have to hope and pray for the best outcome if you’re an Oregon fan and it could be salt in the wound if Marcus Mariota declares for the NFL following the season like most expect. In my opinion, Oregon needs to take care of business and needs some teams ahead of them to trip up for them to make the cut at the end of the year.