Two of the nation’s most explosive offenses were set to meet at the Pac-12 Championship Game. Neither the No. 2 Oregon Ducks nor the No. 7 Arizona Wildcats have been able to get on track on a wet field at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco.
Despite sloppy play and a penalty-filled first half, the Ducks still lead 23-0 at halftime.
Usually Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota draws all of the attention. Mariota is only 14-of-27 throwing the football, but he also converted a pair of rushing touchdowns.
However, the leading Heisman Trophy candidate isn’t the primary story in this contest. Oregon’s defense has come to play, and the Ducks have absolutely dominated the Wildcats’ offense.
Mariota currently has more pass attempts (27) than Arizona has total yards of offense (25).
The Ducks shut down Arizona’s talented running back Nick Wilson, who had 14 yards on seven carries. This forced the ball into the hands of the Wildcats’ freshman quarterback, Anu Solomon. Solomon was 6-of-12 passing for 34 yards and gained minus-23 yards on his six carries.
Oregon’s defensive line — DeForest Buckner, Tony Washington, Alex Balducci and Arik Armstead — is playing its best game of the season.
The group is dominating at the point of attack against the run, and Solomon has been under pressure each time he drops back to pass.
As a result, Arizona was forced into a 3-and-out on six consecutive drives to end the half.
Oregon’s offense doesn’t even need to play at a high level in the second half if its defense continues to swarm Arizona’s offense. The Wildcats, though, will get the ball first at the start of the third quarter. It’s absolutely vital for Solomon and his surrounding cast to make something positive happen coming out of halftime. If they don’t, then Oregon could easily run away with their second Pac-12 championship in the past four years.