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Marcus Mariota, Oregon falter at home in loss to Arizona

Associated Press
Arizona QB Anu Solomon greets Oregon's Marcus Mariota after the Wildcats beat the Ducks on Thursday.

Marcus Mariota was set up to have a Heisman moment for Oregon, down a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Then along came Scooby Wright for the second year in a row.

Wright forced Mariota's first turnover of the season with a forced fumble on the Ducks' final drive Thursday night to complete a huge upset victory of top-ranked Oregon, 31-24.

Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon looked like a savvy veteran despite making his first conference road start in one of the toughest venues in college football. The redshirt freshman went 20-of-31 passing for 287 yards with a touchdown and an interception but made key plays during a 21-point third quarter that caused an upset alert to go off across the country.

Wildcats running backs Terris Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson appeared to be doing just fine as the replacements for 2014 fourth-round pick Ka'Deem Carey in the backfield. Jones-Grigsby ended up as the team's leading rusher and receiver during the game, racking up 210 yards of total offense and a touchdown. Wilson added two scores on the ground to go with his impressive 7.1 yards per carry on the night and was key in picking up several first downs.

Penalties and play in the trenches were once again a fatal flaw for Oregon. Mariota finished the game 20-of-32 passing for 276 yards and two touchdowns, but the Heisman Trophy front-runner was harassed all night long thanks to a leaky offensive line. He nearly led an impressive fourth-quarter comeback for the Ducks but once again ran into Wright, whose interception of Mariota in Tucson last year sent Arizona on its way to a 58-21 win. Ducks offensive coordinator Scott Frost said after the game that Mariota was not 100 percent healthy Thursday night, though, after suffering an injury Sept. 20 against Washington State (a game in which he was sacked seven times).

Oregon's defense, which was exposed against Washington State in the team's last game, finally tripped up enough to cost the Ducks a win. In addition to giving up nearly 500 yards to Arizona, top cornerback prospect Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was picked on several times by Wildcats receivers. Arik Armstead, the team's best defensive line prospect, left the game early with an ankle injury.

Despite the loss, it was a historic game for the Ducks and their best player. By halftime, Mariota had moved into third on the school's career passing list to edge Kellen Clemens. His second touchdown pass of the night allowed the signal-caller to move past John Elway on the Pac-12's career touchdown passes list. The game also marked the school's 100th consecutive sellout at Autzen Stadium.

Still, Thursday night belonged to Arizona. The team moved to 5-0 thanks to the road win and is likely to shoot up in the polls after coming into the game ranked No. 25 in the latest CFB 24/7 Top 25 Power Rankings. Given the tense situation at his former school, Michigan, this week, it might be hard to find a happier coach than Rich Rodriguez.

Arizona lived up to its school motto of "Bear Down" to slow down the high-flying Oregon offense, and shook up the race for the College Football Playoff and the Heisman Trophy in the process.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.



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