When the #10 Oregon Ducks took the field in Tucson to take on Arizona they did so with the top offense in the Pac-12.
The Wildcats, decimated by injury and who have been pummeled by top-10 opponents each of the two prior weeks, came into the game with the worst defense in the conference statistically.
What do you get when you mix those two components together?
A 56-31 victory for the Ducks and whole lot of LaMichael James.
The junior running back ran his way into the Oregon record books and back into the thick of the Heisman trophy race Saturday night.
James rushed for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns, amassing 361 total yards on the night. The yardage totals are new school records at Oregon, and the touchdowns made James the all-time leader in program history.
To put that in prospective, the Arizona offense has rushed for 249 yards total on the season thus far.
James’ 288 yard performance also vaulted him back into the top spot nationally, giving him 613 yards on the season. That total surpasses South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore and his 611 rushing yards.
The speedy back was not alone in his efforts to demoralize the Wildcat defense.
Quarterback Darron Thomas only totaled 101 yards through the air, but threw 2 touchdowns and also ran for a pair of scores on the ground.
Backup running back Kenjon Barner returned to the lineup from injury in a big way, running for 72 yards and 2 touchdowns and adding another score on a reception.
Oregon finished the night with 516 total yards, 415 of which were in the running game. But what kept Arizona in the game was the fact that the Ducks only outgained the Wildcats by 36 yards.
Though it was a lopsided halftime score of 35-3, star quarterback Nick Foles led Arizona back into the game in the 3rd quarter.
Foles was smacked around by a heavy Oregon pass rush all night and was sacked 5 times, but showed toughness and accuracy all night. He ended the game just shy of 400 yards passing and threw 3 touchdowns.
The Ducks held a healthy lead all night, but the defense is clearly going to be the concern going forward for Oregon.
Usually no stranger to giving up huge yardage totals to opponents, the Ducks are the definition of a “bend-but-don’t-break” defense. They usually can keep the point total low, but allowing 31 points to an Arizona team that had managed only 20 in their past 2 games combined is worrisome.
Oregon was without their best linebacker, Michael Clay, who did not make the trip while still recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered against Nevada in week 2.
Arizona will complete their brutal 4-game stretch next week when they travel to USC. The Wildcats, who have lost 3 straight games Oklahoma State, Stanford and now Oregon, will just be glad the Trojans are not ranked in the top-10.
The Ducks will have a bye week before taking on Cal at Autzen Stadium in a Thursday night game on October 6th.
Oregon may need that extra week to search the record books for a rushing mark that does not have the name “LaMichael James” next to it.
Before his time in Eugene is done, there may not be any left.
About the Author
Written by Rob Parness
My name is Robbie Parness and I am a student at the University of Oregon. I'm a California native that loves to play, watch and talk about all kinds of sports. I would love to become a sports writer someday or work in sports in any capacity.