Nix, No. 12 Oregon roll up offense in 49-22 win over Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Noah Whittington surveyed the field while running to his right, making a quick cut to evade a tackle before sprinting up the field.
Then the Oregon running back reached a speed no one else on the field could match, bursting past a half-dozen Arizona defensive players on the way to the end zone. It was the first rushing touchdown of the game for the Ducks.
There would be many, many others before the night was through.
Bo Nix threw for 265 yards and ran for three touchdowns, Whittington added the superb 55-yard touchdown run and No. 12 Oregon rolled to a 49-22 victory over Arizona on Saturday.
“We were able to impose our will at times tonight,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said. “We were able to run the ball the way we wanted to run the ball. Our guys played with physicality, and that’s what we’re looking for. We definitely saw that.”
The Ducks (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) scored touchdowns on seven consecutive drives starting midway through the first quarter, building a 49-13 lead by late in the third. All seven scores were on the ground.
Oregon piled up 580 yards of total offense — including 306 yards rushing — doing pretty much whatever it wanted against Arizona (3-3, 1-2).
Nix was great on the ground for a second straight game, scoring on a pair of 2-yard runs before breaking free for a 25-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He ran for a career-high 141 yards and two touchdowns last week against Stanford.
The Ducks have won five straight since a season-opening loss to Georgia, scoring more than 40 points in every game. They built a 28-13 lead by halftime Saturday. Nix completed 13 of 14 passes for 187 yards as the offense racked up 346 total yards before the break.
“It feels really good offensively,” Nix said. “When you’re able to play fast like we did — up tempo — they were kind of confused at times and we’re just rolling.”
Arizona managed to stay within striking distance thanks to a 52-yard touchdown run by DJ Williams and a pair of field goals from Tyler Loop, including a 36-yarder as time expired in the second quarter.
But the Ducks erased any doubt about the outcome in the third. Oregon opened the second half with an efficient eight-play, 75-yard drive, capped by Nix’s second touchdown run for a 35-13 advantage. A few minutes later, Bucky Irving ran for a 22-yard touchdown and a 42-13 lead.
Arizona’s Jayden de Laura completed 24 of 42 passes for 241 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
The Wildcats had a promising first drive snuffed out at the Oregon 11 when de Laura and Jacob Cowing botched a handoff. Oregon’s DJ Johnson was there to fall on the fumble. With Oregon rolling on offense, those mistakes were insurmountable.
“We couldn’t keep up,” Arizona coach Jedd Fisch said. “They were going and we weren’t stopping them. Then we got stopped a couple times in a row, pinned them back, but couldn’t get the stop. Wasn’t the type of game we wanted, but they played a complete game.
“We tell the players all the time, ‘You win or you learn.’ In this case, we learned.”
Oregon had to punt on its first offensive drive but quickly found its offensive rhythm.
Whittington’s touchdown put Oregon up 7-3 and the Ducks added to their momentum early in the second. Nix hit a diving Kris Hutson for a 42-yard gain that was just short of a touchdown. On the next play, Nix kept it himself for a 2-yard touchdown and 14-3 lead.
Oregon’s Dontae Manning was called for targeting in the second quarter and ejected. He had a helmet-to-helmet hit on Arizona’s Cowing.
Arizona: There’s no shame in losing to the Ducks, but there’s little doubt the Wildcats will be disappointed, particularly with the defensive performance. Arizona’s given up 49 points in two of the past three weeks and that’s not going to win a lot of football games.
Oregon: The Ducks are gaining steam and now get two weeks to prepare for a showdown against UCLA, which could be a Top 10 team by the time the game is played. Nix — an Auburn transfer — is starting to look comfortable with his new school.
Arizona: Travels to face Washington next Saturday.
Oregon: Plays at home vs. UCLA on Oct. 22.
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