The Oregon football team is one win away from its first appearance in the national championship game.
The Ducks used a huge second half to turn a five-point deficit into a resounding 48-29 victory over Arizona at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, improving Oregon’s record to 11-0 and guaranteeing at least a share of the Pac-10 Conference title and a spot in the Rose Bowl.
As consolation prizes go, a trip to Pasadena, California, wouldn’t be half bad. But the Ducks have their sights set on the ultimate prize – a national title – and a Civil War victory over Oregon State in Corvallis on Saturday, December 4, secures a spot in the January 10, 2011 game in Glendale, Arizona.
Oregon’s second-half prowess was on display yet again Friday night, as the Ducks came out of halftime down 19-14. Josh Huff’s 85-yard touchdown run with 13:30 left in the third quarter kicked off the festivities, giving Oregon a 20-19 lead after a failed two-point conversion, and the nation’s top-ranked team never looked back.
A 20-yard TD run by quarterback Darron Thomas followed less than nine minutes later, and D.J. Davis’ six-yard touchdown reception from Thomas, after an Arizona field goal, put the Ducks up 34-22.
All told, Oregon outscored the Wildcats 20-3 in the third quarter and 14-7 in the fourth after a pair of LaMichael James touchdown runs sealed the deal.
James finished with 126 rushing yards and the two TDs, plus three catches for 20 yards. Thomas was 14-for-24 with an interception on Oregon’s opening drive, three touchdown passes and six carries for 62 yards and a TD.
Huff, a receiver, finished with 103 rushing yards, plus two catches for 18 yards. Tight end David Paulson caught three passes for 48 yards and a touchdown, and Jeff Maehl had two catches for 27 yards and a touchdown.
The second-half offensive outburst was accompanied by a solid defensive effort. The Wildcats burned Oregon for several big plays in the first half, including Juron Criner’s 85-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Foles. Criner was wide open on the play, and literally walked into the end zone for his second TD of the game. The first came on an eight-yard pass from Foles with 4:47 left in the opening quarter to give Arizona a 7-0 lead.
Criner, who caught three touchdown passes against Oregon during the Ducks’ 44-41 double-overtime victory over Arizona in Tucson in 2009, finished with three catches for 109 yards and two TDs. Foles went 29-for-54 for 448 yards and three touchdowns.
Arizona vs. Oregon, GoDucks.com