clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Arizona Wildcats Pull Off a Shocker

For the second consecutive season, the Arizona Wildcats delivered a blow to the Oregon Ducks National Championship dreams. This time, it was on the road in front of a rabid crowd at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Upsets like the one Arizona pulled off on Oregon on Thursday night does not happen very often.  That's more than likely why even with playoff baseball and NFL Thursday Night Football on, what happened in Eugene, Oregon was the lead story.

At this point in the season, all those little numbers next to team's names are are simply a way to help garner interest in a matchup.  The Oregon Ducks were ranked second in the nation, against the unranked (surely to be now be ranked) Arizona Wildcats.  This is the anatomy of an upset, and how the Wildcats pulled off a stunner that nearly no one saw coming:

* * *

Weather the Crowd:

Would Autzen Stadium have been even louder had this game taken place on Saturday night?  It's feasible, but highlighted as the only contest on national television Thursday night; all eyes were definitely on the Wildcats as they traveled west.

When Arizona bulldozed Marcus Mariota and the Ducks last season, it was from within the friendly confines of Tucson.  In order to truly shock the world, they'd have to do it in front of a rabid Oregon crowd.

The Ducks looked dabber in their black and pink uniforms, while the Wildcats went with a red/white/red scheme that created for an aesthetically pleasing game to witness.  And thank goodness the jerseys were nice to look at it in the first half, as the game certainly wasn't.  That actually serves as a nice bridge to our next element of an upset...

Stay Close in the First Half:

Two of the nation's most explosive offenses were certainly not in for a defensive struggle...until they found themselves in the middle of one.  The only offensive touchdown of the entire first half would feature Oregon's Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Marcus Mariota, being a recipient of a touchdown pass.

Containing the Ducks to just seven points in the first half was monumental.  While having the lead heading into the locker room would have been preferred, the Wildcats stayed close as they trailed 7-3 through 30 minutes.

Have a Breakout Game from a Skill Player:

The third quarter was Nick Wilson's time to shine.  The freshman running back from Fresno, California, dominated the third quarter against the #2 ranked team in the nation.  He may have been ultimately outrushed by teammate Terris Jones-Grigsby, but his two touchdown runs and a 34-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter alone lit a spark for the Wildcats.

With just 15 minutes remaining, Arizona led 24-14, poised to take down the Ducks for the second year in a row.

Make a Game-Changing Play on Defense:

Amidst the notoriously God-awful officiating that attempted to make the pendulum of momentum act as a battering ram, the Wildcats somehow survived a late Oregon flurry to once again take the lead 31-24 with just under three minutes remaining.

Conceivably, the worst that could happen would be seeing Marcus Mariota lead his troops down the field yet again in the fourth quarter to tie the score.  But, that would mean the game would more than likely have been headed to overtime with a hot Oregon offense.  Good luck with having stopped that.

Luckily, it was Scooby to the rescue.  Scooby Wright III, that is.  With arguably the most important strip sack in school history, Wright III not only popped the ball out of the Greek God-like hands of Mariota, but also pinned the ball to his own leg, successfully recovering it.  A pin could be heard dropping in Eugene.

* * *

Who could have known that on one of the craziest Saturday's of the entire decade, the Arizona Wildcats would start it all on Thursday night?

After what was either the greatest or the worst (I haven't decided yet) day in Pac-12 football history on Saturday, the only remaining unbeaten team is...the Arizona Wildcats?  Picked as a sleeper to win the Pac-12 South in this very space by yours truly due to their favorable schedule, no longer are the Wildcats a long shot for that prediction-in fact, they may have just become the favorite.