Ducks pound Arizona, remain unbeaten

Ducks pound Arizona, remain unbeaten

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by ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Writer and KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on December 1, 2010 at 2:09 PM

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- Darron Thomas passed for three touchdowns and ran for another and top-ranked Oregon earned at least a share of a second consecutive Pac-10 title with a 48-29 victory over No. 20 Arizona on Friday night.

LaMichael James shrugged off talk of an injury to run for 126 yards and two scores for the Ducks (11-0, 8-0), who trailed 19-14 at halftime but surged in the second half to stay on course for a trip to the BCS national title game.

It was the third straight loss for Arizona (7-4, 4-4), which ultimately couldn't keep up with the Ducks' speedy spread-option.

With temperatures in the mid-40s and periodic rain showers, there were concerns that the Wildcats would have trouble with their passing game, which had been averaging about 300 yards a game.

But Nick Foles passed for a career-high 448 yards and three touchdowns, including an 85-yard score to Juron Criner.

The wild recent history between Oregon and Arizona seemed to peak last season when overzealous Wildcats fans readied to rush the field to celebrate what looked to be a victory over the Ducks.

Instead, fans left disappointed after Oregon tied it with 6 seconds left and went on to win 44-41 in the second overtime. The loss eliminated Arizona from any chance at the Rose Bowl -- the Ducks' ultimate destination.

In 2007, the Ducks were ranked No. 2 in the nation when they visited Tucson, entertaining whispers about lofty offseason possibilities. But quarterback Dennis Dixon went down with a season-ending knee injury, Arizona won 34-24 and the Ducks spiraled with losses in three of their last four games.

"Every year since I've been here our battles with Arizona have been real knockdown drag-outs and that's what this is gonna be," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said.

Oregon, with its famously fast, high-scoring offense, is ranked atop the nation with an average of 50.7 points a game, and the team's averaging 542.2 yards total offense.

After Oregon's last game, a 15-13 squeaker over California, Heisman Trophy hopeful LaMichael James was on crutches with a leg injury. He was able to rest the injury over a bye week and practiced on a limited basis.

James said earlier this week he was still feeling some pain, but he was not listed on Oregon's injury report.

Arizona is ranked No. 20 nationally in total defense, allowing an average 319.3 yards, and 14th in run defense, allowing 112.9. And, also coming off a bye, the Wildcats have had a chance to both rest and game-plan for the Ducks.

Defensive coordinator Greg Brown joked when asked how his unit planned to slow down Oregon.

"Thirteen guys," he said. "We've got a special petition into the NCAA to see if they'll go for it."

On offense, Arizona's strength is quarterback Nick Foles, who has thrown for 601 yards with four touchdowns and an interception over his last two games. He is completing a conference-high 71.0 percent of his passes.

But the Wildcats lost those two games, to Stanford and USC -- both of whom Oregon easily defeated.

 

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