November 16, 2007

Final -- Arizona 34, Oregon 24.

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The bid for the national championships is over for the Ducks. With the loss, they can stil hope for the Rose Bowl, or a BCS at-large bid, but no more championship dreams.

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November 15, 2007

Halftime

TUCSON, Ariz. -- At least Leaf got a field-goal scoring drive in before the half. Still, there's a ways to go and there's word that Dixon will not return in the second half, according to Oregon's spokesman David Williford. He's done for the night and perhaps we'll find out about his availibility for next week after the game.

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It gets worse

TUCSON, Ariz. -- After another three-and-out by the Oregon offense, the Ducks punted the ball and the Wildcats' star corner and punt returner Antoine Cason returned the ball for a touchdown to put Arizona ahead 31-11.

Kiss the national title goodbye.

Adjustment time

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Just as Dixon strapped on his helmet, Tuitama hits Mike Thomas for a 46-yard touchdown on third and ten. Things can't be worse for the Ducks right now.

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Leaf goes in and...sputters

TUCSON, Ariz. -- After Dixon's injury, Brady Leaf started taking the snaps. He completed his first pass for four yards and the next pass that was caught was by Arizona's Antonie Cason, who returned it for a touchdown.

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Arizona reverses Oregon's fortune

TUSCON, Ariz. -- Quickly marching to the five-yard line, Dixon hit a wide-open Derrick Jones in the endzone, except Jones had the ball bounce of his chest and into the arms of safety Nate Ness, who ran it to the Oregon 45-yard line.

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Dixon does it again

TUCSON, Ariz -- As if he wanted to make a Heisman statement early into the game, Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon faked a handoff to running back Jonathan Stewart on fourth and three, and ran 39 yards into the endzone.

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Oregon looks to avoid the 'No. 2' curse

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Four teams have already been defeated as the No. 2 team in the nation. Cal, USC, South Florida and Boston College all suffered losses that will likely keep them out of the BCS picture.

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October 13, 2007

USC Survives Close Call With Wildcats

LOS ANGELES -- Last week, USC saw its national title hopes crash and burn against Stanford. This week a realistic shot at the Rose Bowl was on line for much of the game until a Joe McKnight punt return turned things around as the Trojans escaped with a 20-13 win over Arizona.

USC survived spotty quarterback play from backup Mark Sanchez, a solid attack from Arizona signal-caller Willie Tuitama and came up with the big plays when it needed to avoid losing consecutive games at home. Without McKnight, a talented back who had struggled to find a role in the offense, the Trojans would likely be traveling to Notre Dame next week riding a two-game losing streak.

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Game Over: Arizona Turns Ball Over on Downs

LOS ANGELES -- Arizona just came up short on fourth and nine, giving USC the ball back with 13 seconds left and setting the Trojans up with a much-needed 20-13 win. I'm going to get some quotes and come back to wrap things up.

Arizona Has Life

LOS ANGELES -- The Wildcats held USC to a field goal on its last drive and the Trojans now hold a 20-13 with 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Arizona's defense forced a best-case scenario, giving the offense the ball with a chance to tie.

McKnight Sets Up Likely Trojan Victory

LOS ANGELES -- Once again, Joe McKnight has come to the rescue for USC. With the clock ticking on a drive that started at the Trojans one-yard line, McKnight broke off a 59-yard run to set USC up in Arizona territory. Now USC is threatening inside the Arizona five-yard line with about a minute left on the clock while holding a 17-13 lead.

Arizona's going to need a miracle to pull this one out.

USC Defense Energized

LOS ANGELES -- Since the latest Trojan touchdown, the USC defense has responded in kind, holding Arizona to consecutive unproductive drives as we approach the seven-minute mark in the fourth quarter.

But the Wildcats just got another huge play from freshman punter Keenyn Crier, who has been pinning USC inside its own 10-yard line all day long. His latest effort was one for the books, an 83-yard line drive that sailed over returner Joe McKnight's head and settled on USC's one-yard line. Unbelievable. So far, Crier has averaged 49.2 yards on six punts and has generally kept USC out of any kind of decent field position.

USC still leads 17-13.

USC Grabs Lead, Momentum

LOS ANGELES -- The Trojans couldn't get anything going on offense, so Joe McKnight gave them a boost on special teams. McKnight returned an Arizona punt 45 yards to the Wildcats 25, waking up the dormant USC crowd and giving the offense a short field.

Mark Sanchez took quick advantage finding Fred Davis, who again came up big for USC, with a touchdown pass to take a 17-13 lead with 10:47 remaining in the fourth quarter. It's a whole new ball game now with the pressure suddenly switching back to Arizona.

Arizona Takes Lead into Fourth Quarter

LOS ANGELES -- We're through three quarters at the Coliseum and Arizona is holding onto its 13-10 lead over USC. The story of the game so far is Willie Tuitama's efficiency for Arizona and Mark Sanchez's inability to get anything going for the USC offense.

Whatever has been ailing the USC offense, Sanchez is not the answer as he's completed 10-of-18 passes for 65 yards and two interceptions. It doesn't help that his receivers continue to drop passes, a problem that has plagued USC all season. Ronald Johnson is the biggest culprit so far, dropping two sure first-down passes so far.

Tuitama, meanwhile, continues to make smart decisions and accurate passes and has led the Wildcats to produce just enough offense to stay on top of the Trojans.

Arizona Takes Lead Over USC

LOS ANGELES -- USC needed to make some halftime adjustments. Less than four minutes into the second half, it doesn't look like it made the correct ones.

The offense came out flat, going three and out on its first possession, and the defense still hasn't figured out Willie Tuitama, who led the Wildcats on a 40-yard drive inside the USC 30-yard line. Faced with fourth and two at the USC 28-yard line, Arizona coach Mike Stoops decided to play it safe and kick the field goal instead of trying for the first down. It paid off as Jason Bondzio converted on a career-high 45-yard field goal attempt to give the Wildcats a 13-10 lead early in the second half.

Tuitama, meanwhile, has completed 18-of-23 passes for 182 yards.

Cason Comes Up Big, Sets Up Halftime Tie With Trojans

LOS ANGELES -- Facing second and nine inside their own five, the Trojans decided to go for the big strike with less than two minutes left in the half. It didn't work.

A deep pass down the sideline intended for Fred Davis was well covered by Antoine Cason, who intercepted the pass and set the Arizona offense up in field goal range. The Wildcats stalled, but got enough yardage for Jason Bondzio to hit a chip-shot field goal to tie the game 10-10. With Cason being arguably the best cover corner in the country, Sanchez's decision was clearly a mistake.

It almost got worse when Sanchez threw another interception on the ensuing drive. Fortunately for the Trojans, Arizona cornerback Corey Hall fumbled the ball right back to USC with 47 seconds left in the half. Needless to say, Sanchez didn't throw another pass before halftime and USC went to the locker room reeling and lucky to be in a tie game.

Tuitama Picking Apart USC Defense

LOS ANGELES -- Dink and dump, dink and dump. Arizona's efficient spread attack finally found the end zone with 5:31 left in the second quarter when Willie Tuitama found the end zone on a quarterback keeper from the one-yard line to cut the USC lead to 10-7.

Tuitama has been close to perfect, completing 14-of-15 passes for 134 yards and USC once again looks to be in trouble at home against a seemingly inferior opponent. Halftime adjustments are going to be the difference in the outcome of this game.

Trojans Get Field Goal off Arizona Fumble

LOS ANGELES -- USC had plenty of opportunities to find the end zone after a Nic Grigsby fumble set the Trojans up with the ball in Arizona territory, but ended up with a 27-yard field goal to take a 10-0 lead.

After stalling, Pete Carroll decided to go for it on fourth-and-three at the 24 yard line, converting when Sanchez found go-to tight end Fred Davis for a six-yard gain. A personal foul facemask penalty set the Trojans up with yet another first down in the red zone, but they came up short, gaining just 21 yards on a 10-play drive.

Arizona Finding Spots in USC Defense

LOS ANGELES -- Arizona's spread offense is giving USC trouble. Often lining up four or five wide, the Wildcats are playing dink and dunk offense with quarterback Willie Tuitama running it very efficiently.

So far, Tuitama is 10-for-11 for 67 yards. But the early turnover lack of a big play have stalled the Wildcats. While Tuitama has been deadly accurate, his longest pass has gone for just 13 yards. Eventually the short passes will put Arizona in the end zone if USC doesn't make some adjustments on defense.

Chains on the Move

LOS ANGELES -- It looks like all the USC offense needed was one first down to get started. After struggling on their first few plays, Mark Sanchez and the rest of the offense started to find their rhythm when Sanchez hit David Ausburry for a first down at the Trojan 31-yard line.

From there, they ripped of three consecutive first-down plays as a collection of play-action passes and Chauncey Washington runs led the Trojans to the first score of the game. Chauncey Washington's 18-yard touchdown run gives the Trojans a 7-0 lead with 3:41 left in the first quarter. So far, Sanchez is 4-for-5 for 42 yards.

Sanchez Takes First Snap

LOS ANGELES -- USC's defense came up with a big play early when Keith Rivers recovered Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski's fumble, setting up Mark Sanchez and the USC offense near midfield.

But Sanchez's first stint under center didn't go far with a one-yard drive ending with a punt back to Arizona.

New Beginning at USC

LOS ANGELES -- A new era of USC football starts today -- at least for this week. After suffering a broken finger during last week's stunning loss to Stanford, John David Booty is on the bench in favor of highly-touted sophomore backup Mark Sanchez. Sanchez actually challenged Booty for the starting job as a redshirt freshman in 2006 and ends up getting his chance a little bit earlier than expected.

While the USC party line has been to remain loyal to Booty -- that he's only on the bench because of injury -- the Trojans have to hope that Sanchez can provide a much-needed spark in an inconsistent and at times errant passing attack that was the difference in last week's loss.

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