No. 13 Arizona Excels at the Expense of Oregon
A powerful ground game, a stifling defense and near-perfection from the starting quarterback.
For 13th-ranked Arizona, it can’t get much better than Saturday night’s 38-3 rout of No. 12 Oregon.
“We had no turnovers and a great defense. It was the most complete win of the season,” Wildcat Coach Dick Tomey said. “A game can get out of hand, but we weren’t expecting anything like this.”
Neither were the shellshocked Ducks, who entered the game averaging 44 points per game but were shut down by the Pacific 10 Conference’s top defense.
Duck quarterback Akili Smith had two passes intercepted and was sacked three times.
Trung Canidate rushed for 180 yards in 17 carries for the Wildcats, including a 71-yard scoring run, and Arizona scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the second half. It was by far the tailback’s best performance since coming off a stress fracture in his left foot that slowed his start this season.
Keith Smith, who shares Arizona’s quarterback spot with Ortege Jenkins, directed his team to 31 points in a little more than two quarters.
The victory, coupled with Washington’s loss to USC, left Arizona, 8-1 overall, 4-1 in the Pac-10, alone in second place in the conference, one game behind No. 2 UCLA.
Oregon (3-2, 6-2), down to its fourth-string tailback because of injuries, managed only 64 yards rushing in 32 tries.
“Our defensive line did a great job of stopping the run and coming out hard on Akili Smith,” said linebacker Marcus Bell, who had a game-high 11 tackles. “It all starts up front. If you can put pressure there, it gives everybody else a chance to make plays.”
Smith was 13 for 25 for a season-low 168 yards before being replaced by Jason Maas early in the fourth quarter.
Arizona State 38, Washington State 28--Ryan Kealy threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns as the Sun Devils won at Pullman, Wash. It was the fifth consecutive loss for the defending Pac-10 champions.
“We’re trying to make a statement,” said Kealy, who returned to the starting lineup after a one-game benching. “We want to make a bowl game.”
Arizona State (4-4, 3-2) played without star tailback J.R. Redmond, who had a sprained ankle. But Gerald Green rushed for 119 yards, and Kenny Mitchell and Davaren Hightower each scored two touchdowns. Kealy was 22 for 33 passing.
Redmond, the team’s top rusher, made a couple of runs in the early minutes, and then told Coach Bruce Snyder his ankle was hurting.
“J.R. told me to play strong because he couldn’t play tonight,” Hightower said.
Washington State (3-5, 0-5) rotated quarterbacks on each series, with Paul Mencke starting and playing more effectively than Steve Birnbaum.
Mencke passed for 178 yards and led all four scoring drives, but he also had one interception returned for a touchdown. Birnbaum was four for 14 for 104 yards. Nian Taylor caught seven passes for 168 yards for the Cougars.
“I think it went OK, but not good enough because we didn’t win,” Cougar Coach Mike Price said of the platoon system.
He declined to say if the two would rotate every series next weekend, or if he planned to change the system.
After a scoreless first quarter, Stephen Baker kicked a 48-yard field goal for Arizona State.
Mencke moved the Cougars 77 yards on the next series, with Kevin Brown’s one-yard run producing Washington State’s only lead, 7-3. Brown finished with 153 yards rushing.
The Cougars stopped Arizona State on the next series, forcing a punt. But returner Dee Moronkola fumbled and Arizona State’s Seanan Kelly recovered at Washington State’s 18. Mitchell caught a 12-yard scoring pass for a lead at 10-7 that the Sun Devils never relinquished.
Brown fumbled after a big gain on the next series, with Arizona State’s Courtney Jackson recovering on the Washington State 38 with 1:24 left in the half.
Kealy engineered a 62-yard drive in 53 seconds, completing five of six passes. A six-yard scoring reception to Mitchell gave the Sun Devils a 17-7 halftime lead.