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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Live game blog: Arizona vs. Oregon

    The University of Arizona campus is the center of the college football world tonight, but will the Wildcats live up to the pressure? Check back here throughout the game for comments and observations and feel free to leave your own comments, observations, and questions below.

    A Rose Bowl berth is waiting in the wings, who wants it more?

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    5:16 p.m. – A few updates for our devoted readers. Junior running back Nic Grigsby is listed as the starter despite nursing a shoulder injury – I don’t think I need to tell you how important that is for Arizona.

    Uniform watch: Arizona is following the rules of the “”Red Out”” with red pants and jerseys with white numbers and names and blue helmets. Oregon, never one to under dress, is wearing plain black pants, white jerseys with green numbers and green wings on the shoulders but white names (can’t read the names? Don’t worry, no one can), and green helmets.

    Media attention: It’s been a wild day here in Tucson thanks to ESPN/ABC. College GameDay was in full swing this morning and UA students packed the mall with signs and painted faces. The game tonight is the No. 1 primetime game for ABC and is being called by Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit.

    Energy: Everyone seems to be feeling it today. The ZonaZoo was completely full over an hour before the opening kick and the fans were all about Arizona’s pre-stretch dance and chant routine. If the excitement for that shindig was any indication of how loose the Wildcats are for tonight, they seem to to ber very, very ready.

    Got any predictions? Leave ’em here.

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    8:42 p.m. – Arizona 17, Oregon 14 at the end of the third quarter,

    Arizona has completely taken over thanks to its defense – not enough can be said about how good the “”D”” has played. Arizona has a 1st-and-goal from the 10-yard line to start the fourth.

    6:08 p.m. – Arizona just left the locker room to the tune of a brand new entrance video. This place is rocking’ and Arizona seems up to the challenge.

    Oregon won the toss and elected to receive. This first drive could be huge for Arizona, it needs to make a defensive statement early. Hopefully they take the momentum that this crowd is pouring from the stands.

    And away we go…

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    6:19 p.m. – Touchdown run for Jeremiah Masoli – what an athlete.

    Oregon clearly has a plan: pick on Arizona CB Devin Ross. The senior has struggled mightily of late and it’s continued this week after a blatant pass-interference penalty and soft coverage. The defense actually played pretty well, but Ross’ poor play cost them.

    Let’s see how the offense can respond.

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    6:27 p.m. – Arizona picks up a first down early but lost momentum after a tipped pass and then a sack. The Wildcats are back on D and they can not afford to be down 14-0.

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    6:32 p.m. – Good stand by the defense, allowing one first down before forcing the punt.

    How impressive is Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli? He’s fast and he’s extremely tough. Their offensive in general is pretty cool – they never huddle and they’re always spreading out their receivers and using motion. Must drive opposing defensive coaches crazy.

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    6:43 p.m. – A great drive – led by Keola Antolin’s efforts rushing and receiving – is ended when David Douglas fumbled inside the five yard line. Devastating in regards to not scoring, but very promising for Arizona. They moved the ball well and made clutch plays.

    Plus the defense just forced a quick three-and-out. Arizona has the momentum.

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    6:59 p.m. – Jeremiah Masoli makes yet another incredible play, this time scrambling to his right and throwing for a touchdown.

    Oregon seems to be making a point of throwing the ball before Arizona defenders have a chance to turn around – something that hurt them against California last week. That’s good offensive game-planning by Chip Kelly and his crew. And, of course, it doesn’t help Arizona that Oregon is making these throws to Devin Ross’ side.

    Arizona has done a fantastic job shutting Masoli down on the ground, especially safety Cam Nelson. The senior has showed tremendous lateral coverage to keep Masoli contained and he forced a fumble early in the drive recovered by ORegon. CB Trevin Wade forced another Masoli fumbled when Oregon was inside the redzone, but that was also recovered by Oregon.

    Down 14-0 with 9:58 to go, Arizona needs to get a sense of urgency on offense. Putting points on the board is a must here.

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    7:06 p.m. – The main scoreboard at Arizona Stadium reads 4-0 Oregon, maybe Arizona isn’t that far out of it after all…

    In all seriousness, this does not look good. Arizona’s defense has been relatively solid, but the offense has been terrible. “”Air Zona”” looks completely overwhelmed, not able to get anything going on the ground and the passing game has been extremely tentative. Oregon is playing with so much confidence defensively, but more importantly it is flying all over the field. Oregon’s defense is one of the fastest units Arizona has seen all season – if not the fastest.

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    7:21 p.m. – Senior safety Cam Nelson is playing out of his mind right now. Just tipped Masoli’s pass on first down and it fell into the hands of LB Sterling Lewis. This is the kind of play that Arizona needed, let’s see if it can turn the momentum into a score.

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    7:26 p.m. – Ladies and gentlemen, we have a game.

    After an interception by Sterling Lewis (thanks to a tipe by safety Cam Nelson), Arizona drives down the field for a touchdown. Nick Foles hit Juron Criner in the back corner on a fade route, made possible by a fantastic effort from Criner. The sophomore leaped over the Oregon cornerback and brought the ball in, hanging on as he hit the ground.

    14-7 Oregon with 1:52 left in the half.

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    7:30 p.m. – Arizona defense forces a three-and-out. Arizona takes over on its own 33-yard line with 49 seconds left and two timeouts. Big question: go for the score or take it into the half? I say they go for the throat.

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    7:44 p.m. – HALFTIME: Oregon 14, Arizona 10

    Alex Zendejas drilled a 47-yard field goal as time expired to bring Arizona to within four, and then spiced things up by rubbing it into the faces of some Oregon players.

    The Wildcats are losing, yes, but the game currently belongs to them. The defense has been stout and despite giving up two touchdowns, there’s really nothing to complain about. The offense looked pretty timid at first but it has seemed to find its groove.

    Player of the half: Safety Cam Nelson. Playing the final home game of his stellar Wildcat career, Nelson has been playing the game of his life. He has three tackles – all of them big plays, especially considering how well he strung out Jeremiah Masoli – has been good in coverage, and his tipped pass the turned into an interception has been the turning point of the game.

    Arizona is losing because: turnovers. David Douglas’ fumble inside the Oregon 10-yard line was crushing, and Arizona failed to recover two Masoli fumbles in Oregon’s second scoring drive.

    Improvements for second half success: First of all, Nick Foles needs to take more shots down field. His struggles have come by virture of defenive pressure, but he can force the Ducks to call some of that back if he starts picking them apart down the field.

    Defensively, Devin Ross needs to start making plays. The senior is a very good player and has been reliable throughout his whole career, but his recent struggles seem to have chipped away at his confidence – he is overly aggressive which forces him to blow coverages, commit pass interferences, and play with an unnecessary chip on his shoulder after the whistle. Ross has struggled, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up making a game-deciding play down the stretch.

    Arizona will receive to start the third quarter, let’s see if they can keep it going.

    What do you guys think? Any predictions for the second half?

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    8:07 p.m. – Offense couldn’t answer the bell to start the half, but the punt team sure did. Keenyn Crier booted it inside the five and gunner Lyle Brown, with his heels on the goal line, batted it out of bounds inside the one yard line. This is a great opportunity for the Arizona defense as they try to continue to take control of the game.

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    8:18 p.m. – Senior RB Nick Booth just pounded in an eight-yard TD run on a draw play to put Arizona up 17-14. The offense is clicking, the crowd is loud, and the defense is dominating – things are looking good for UA right now, let’s see if they can keep it that way.

    Question for you guys: what do you think about the depth Arizona has at running back? Grigsby, Antolin, Nwoko, and now Booth – all four of them can make plays.

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    8:24 p.m. – Incredible play by defensive tackle Early Mitchel. Masoli ran right on a 3rd-and-1 and Mitchell, starting from his defensive tackle spot, strung out Oregon blockers and wrapped up Masoli all by himself.

    Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops is pumped, and this crowd is getting louder. Offense takes the field, could be a game-changing drive here.

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    8:33 p.m. – Zendejas misses a 24-yard field goal and the score remains 17-14. Arizona had a chance to build a huge lead but failed to score any points – could this allow Oregon back in the game?

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    8:48 p.m. – Nick Foles finds Bug Wright on a five-yard arrow route for a touchdown. With the way the defense is playing, this one is getting closer to a done deal.

    Note: Bug Wright is starting to arrive. He started the season as a hot newcomer but struggled after a minor knee injury. He’s been a consistent punt returner for a few weeks, but tonight he’s been Arizona’s best wide receiver.

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    8:57 p.m. – Jeremiah Masoli is keeping the Duck in the game. The junior just rushed for his second touchdown of the night and displayed just how tough and athletic he is throughout the entire scoring drive. It’s hard to tackle a guy that’s that nimble and that aggressive.

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    9:03 p.m. – An ugly three-and-out for Arizona is making this game a lot more interesting than it was 15 minutes ago, and Keenyn Criner’s punting struggles only make it worse.

    Is the lead slipping away? Jeremiah Masoli seems poised, we’ll see if the UA defense steps up like it’s been doing all day.

    Side note: Nick Foles has not been sharp tonight.

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    9:09 p.m. – Oregon kicker Morgan Flint just banged a field goal off of the crossbar, but it bounced through the uprights to tie the game 24-24.

    We’re half way through the fourth quarter, and nothing that’s happened before matters. The game is tied, Rose Bowl appearance on the line.

    Who will take it home?

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    9:11 p.m. – Well that was quick. Nick Foles just hit Juron Criner on a rocket screen and Criner took it 71-yards to the house for his second TD of the night. What an unbelievable effort by Criner, turning on jets that no one knew he had and refusing to get tackled.

    Playmakers make plays when it counts, and Criner is proving to be the guy tonight.

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