Oct 23, 2021; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham looks onto the field during the first half against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Rising helps No. 24 Utah hold off Arizona

Cameron Rising threw for 294 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, and T.J. Pledger scored a late touchdown as No. 24 Utah held off Arizona 38-29 on Saturday in Pac-12 play at Tucson, Ariz.

Arizona (1-9, 1-6 Pac-12) scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to get within 31-29 before Utah (7-3, 6-1) answered with a 15-play, 75-yard drive, capped by Pledger’s 2-yard run with 2:10 left to make it a two-score game after the extra point.

Rising completed 19 of 30 passes, including two touchdowns. He opened the scoring with an 11-yard run nearly five minutes into the game.

Arizona, which ended a 20-game losing streak last week by beating Cal 10-3, closed within 31-23 with 11:31 to go on Tyler Loop’s 22-yard field goal attempt. After forcing a three-and-out, the Wildcats blocked a Utah punt, with Rhedi Short recovering and scoring on a 3-yard return. The two-point conversion run failed.

On the ensuing drive, Utah converted a fourth-and-1 at the Arizona 42-yard line en route to the game-sealing score.

Utah, which began the day with a one-game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker over Arizona State in the Pac-12 South, played without leading rusher Tavion Thomas, who had rushed for four touchdowns in each of the previous two games. He sat for what was described as a “precaution.”

Pledger started and carried 25 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns.

Arizona quarterback Will Plummer completed 18 of 32 throws for 219 yards and one touchdown. He ended up as the team’s leading rusher with 50 yards, most coming on a 43-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Utah took a 7-0 lead after the first possession of the game, but the Wildcats stormed back with back-to-back touchdown drives to take a 14-7 lead after the first quarter.

The Utes tied the game on the first play of the second quarter on a 15-yard rush by Pledger, and that’s how the score remained until Arizona’s Lucas Havrisik tied the school record with a 57-yard field goal with 1:24 to go before halftime.

That was enough time for Utah, which drove 75 yards in nine plays, capped by a 2-yard pass from Rising to Brant Kuithe with two seconds left for a 21-17 lead.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA;  Utah Utes running back Tavion Thomas (9) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Cameron Rising (7) during the fourth quarter against the UCLA Bruins at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Utah aims to clinch Pac-12 South on road vs. Arizona

Utah heads into this weekend with a chance to clinch the Pac-12 South if it can defeat host Arizona on Saturday afternoon in Tucson, Ariz.

The Utes (6-3, 5-1 Pac-12) have a one-game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker over Arizona State. The race will be over if the Sun Devils lose at Washington and Utah takes care of business against the Wildcats (1-8, 1-5), who unburdened themselves of a 20-game losing streak by eking past Cal 10-3 on Saturday.

Utah is surging after a 1-2 start, thoroughly dominating Stanford in its last game, winning 52-7 while rushing for 441 yards. The Utes had three 100-yard rushers for the first time in program history, led by Tavion Thomas, who has rushed for four touchdowns in each of the past two games.

Thomas rushed just 21 times in the first four games but now leads a powerful rushing attack with 122 carries for 742 yards and 14 touchdowns.

“He’s got size, he’s got speed, he’s got quickness and pretty much everything you are looking for in a running back,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.

“Early on, the ball security wasn’t where it needed to be and by no means did we ever consider giving up on him. We knew that we needed to continue bringing him along and get him to the point where everybody felt confidence in him carrying the football and that he was going to protect it.”

While the Utes will try to control the game on the ground — they rank 16th nationally at 219.0 yards per game — quarterback Cameron Rising also has been a steady force, avoiding the big mistake. He has completed 129 of 203 passes for 1,458 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Arizona is feeling good entering its home finale after beating a Cal team depleted by COVID-19 safety protocols.

“I told our team, ‘So what; now what?” coach Jedd Fisch said. “It’s over at this point. We have signs all over our building — so what now?”

Will Plummer, the only healthy scholarship quarterback on the roster, left the Cal game with shoulder and hand injuries, but he kept returning and led a late touchdown drive for the winning points. He is expected to play against Utah, although wide receiver Jamarye Joiner and running back Michael Wiley figure to continue to take direct snaps to mix things up.

Utah has won the past three meetings dating to 2016. The teams did not play last season.

Whittingham is 140-69 in 18 years at Utah, needing one more victory to tie Ike Armstrong for the most wins in school history. Armstrong was 141-55-15 in 25 seasons (1925 to 1949).

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears fans during the third quarter against the Oregon State Beavers at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona ends 20-game skid by beating COVID-depleted Cal

Michael Wiley’s 10-yard touchdown run with 2:17 remaining was the difference in Arizona ending its 20-game losing streak with a 10-3 Pac-12 win Saturday in Tucson, Ariz., over a California team depleted by COVID-19 protocol.

Arizona, which had the longest losing streak in the nation, won its sixth straight against California. The Wildcats (1-8, 1-5 Pac-12) won for the first time since Oct. 5, 2019 at Colorado.

The Bears (3-6, 2-4) were without 24 players, including quarterback Chase Garbers, and five coaches were entered into COVID-19 protocols earlier this week.

Garbers took every snap at quarterback through Cal’s first eight games. Transfer Ryan Glover, who played last spring at Western Carolina after three years at Penn, was the starter.

Glover completed 11 of 29 passes for 94 yards.

The teams traded field goals in the third quarter to open the scoring.

Tyler Loop’s 29-yard field goal with 5:46 left in the quarter was answered by Nick Lopez, who made his first career attempt, a 34-yarder with 2:09 remaining. Lopez replaced Dario Longhetto, one of the players affected by the COVID-19 restrictions.

In that drive, Cal achieved its first third-down conversion in the game after failing in its first eight attempts.

The Golden Bears finished with 122 yards of total offense while Arizona tallied 331.

Arizona quarterback Will Plummer suffered a shoulder injury in the first half, forcing him to leave the field twice to the locker room to be examined. He went to the locker room again in the third quarter with a bloody hand.

Plummer completed 16 of 28 passes for 129 yards with two interceptions. He also rushed for 68 yards on 11 carries.

Converted receiver Jamarye Joiner and fifth-string quarterback Luke Ashworth took snaps for Arizona, which has lost Jordan McCloud (knee and ankle injuries) and Gunner Cruz (thumb) for the season.

Arizona’s best scoring situation in the first half with 9:09 left in the first quarter when the Wildcats reached the Cal 7-yard line but Plummer’s pass on third-and-goal was tipped by Nate Rutchena and fellow linebacker Evan Tattersall intercepted the pass.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Chase Garbers (7) passes the football during the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona lugs 20-game skid into matchup with improving Cal

After convincing home wins against Colorado and Oregon State following a near-upset at Oregon, California will try to keep its momentum rolling against struggling Arizona on Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.

Cal (3-5, 2-3 Pac-12) is still playing for a winning season. Arizona (0-8, 0-5) is trying to snap a 20-game losing streak, the longest in the nation presently and a dubious school record.

Bears coach Justin Wilcox said, “We’re certainly improving. There are some guys that are developing and making some big plays in the game and kind of coming into their own a little bit.”

One of them is quarterback Chase Garbers, who in last week’s 39-25 win over Oregon State rushed for a touchdown on the opening drive. That set the school career record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 10.

Garbers also secured a career-high passer rating of 188.1, topping his previous personal best of 187. He completed 17 of 26 pass attempts for 262 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

He also avoided getting sacked while rushing for 58 yards on 10 carries.

The Golden Bears tallied a season-high 255 yards on 47 carries.

Arizona is second to last in the Pac-12 in rushing yards allowed per game (192.0). The Wildcats yielded 234 yards on the ground last week in a 41-34 loss at Southern California.

After a 34-0 loss at Colorado, the Wildcats have lost their last two games by a touchdown or less, falling 21-16 against Washington before the USC game.

“I made the reference last week about going from losing big to losing small to winning small to winning big,” Arizona coach Jedd Fisch said. “That was another great example of being there but not over the hump.

“I think we all saw that there was absolutely no flinch, no letdown, no anything, and we got to play four quarters of football.”

Will Plummer completed 20 of 34 pass attempts for 264 yards while rushing for 31 yards and a touchdown.

Backup Jamarye Joiner, a former quarterback turned receiver, took snaps against at QB the Trojans. His first appearance resulted in a 73-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.

Joiner is not expected to play against California because of a right knee sprain. That leaves Plummer as the only able quarterback after Jordan McCloud (right knee and ankle) and Gunner Cruz (broken thumb) previously sustained season-ending injuries.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans running back Keaontay Ingram (28) is stopped short of the goal line by Arizona Wildcats safety Rhedi Short (7) and linebacker Christian Young (5) during the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

USC defeats Arizona but WR Drake London injured

Keontay Ingram rushed for a career-high 186 yards to help Southern California overcome the loss of star receiver Drake London as the Trojans hung on to send Arizona to its 20th consecutive loss with a 41-34 decision Saturday in Los Angeles.

The Trojans (4-4, 3-3 Pac-12) snapped a two-game losing streak but saw London leave the field on a cart with 4:16 left in the second quarter with an air cast on his right leg. London, who entered the game with 79 catches for 1,003 yards, later returned to the sideline, using crutches for what was described as a right ankle injury.

USC led 35-14 at halftime, but the Wildcats (0-8, 0-5) battled back in the second half, gaining momentum with a 37-yard interception return by linebacker Anthony Pandy to make the score 35-21 with 10:44 remaining in the third quarter.

Arizona cut its deficit to 38-28 with 12:50 to go on quarterback Will Plummer’s 16-yard scramble, inching within a touchdown after a 25-yard field goal with 6:04 left.

The teams then traded field goals before USC gathered in an onside kick with 1:25 left and ran out the clock.

Ingram, in his first season at USC after three years at Texas, carried 26 times en route to his career-high rushing total.

Kedon Slovis started at quarterback for USC, completing 14 of 20 passes for 192 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart played most of the second and fourth quarters, making his first appearance since suffering a knee injury in an impressive debut against Washington State on Sept. 18, when he threw for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Dart went 12 of 18 for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

London had nine catches for 81 yards, suffering the injury while being tackled scoring his second touchdown.

Plummer threw for 264 yards on 20-of-34 passing.

USC gained 360 yards in the first half, scoring touchdowns on five of six drives. Slovis and Dart each threw two touchdown passes before halftime.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) throws a pass during the third quarter against the Utah Utes at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

USC hopes to hand Arizona its 20th straight loss

Southern California is riding a two-game losing streak, owns a sub-.500 record and is finishing up its season with an interim head coach.

A game against Arizona comes at a good time.

USC (3-4, 2-3 Pac-12) hosts the Wildcats on Saturday in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with Arizona (0-7, 0-4) coming in with the nation’s longest losing streak at 19 games. Two of those 19 losses came against the Trojans, although USC needed a last-minute touchdown to eke out a 34-30 win in Tucson last season.

The Wildcats had a close call last week, leading visiting Washington 16-7 early in the fourth quarter and looking to extend the advantage before throwing an interception after reaching the Huskies 28. Washington grabbed the momentum and won 21-16.

“What we’re trying to teach our team is that one play is one play,” first-year Arizona coach Jedd Fisch said. “One play is not the outcome. We’re up nine with 12 minutes left and it felt as if after that there was just a deflation and a here-we-go-again mentality.”

USC is coming off a 31-16 road loss to rival Notre Dame, despite outgaining the Irish 424 yards to 383.

“Way too many mistakes from all facets whether it was special teams, offense, defense, coaching,” said interim head coach Donte Williams, who is 2-3 after replacing the fired Clay Helton. “We all made mistakes, and we took turns making them.”

The Trojans have won the past eight matchups against Arizona, 10 of the last 11 and 17 of the past 19.

They enter with plenty of firepower, including potential All-America receiver Drake London, who has 79 catches for 1,003 yards, with both figures ranking second in the nation. He has an astonishing 31 catches for 333 yards in the past two games.

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis has completed 162 of 248 passes for 1,818 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Keaontay Ingram, a transfer from Texas, has a team-high 557 rushing yards, including a season-best 138 last week against Notre Dame.

Arizona has failed to reach 20 points in 10 consecutive games. Much of this season’s issues revolve around the quarterback position, where third-stringer Will Plummer is the only healthy scholarship player. He is 49 of 91 for 442 yards with two TDs and five interceptions in five games, including two starts.

Fisch used athletic wide receiver Jamarye Joiner, a former high school quarterback, in several direct-snap situations last week. The coach said that Joiner’s role could expand, giving USC’s defense reason to prepare for more zone-read looks on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2021; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze (16) catches a touchdown pass against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Washington rallies to hand Arizona 19th straight loss

Dylan Morris passed for two second-half touchdowns and Washington’s defense provided a spark with two fourth-quarter interceptions as the Huskies rallied to beat winless Arizona 21-16 on Friday night in Tucson, Ariz.

Washington (3-4, 2-2 Pac-12) trailed 13-0 at halftime. The Huskies went ahead for the first time when Morris found Rome Odunze on an 8-yard pass for a 21-16 lead with 6:44 to go.

The Wildcats (0-7, 0-4) then went three-and-out and didn’t get the ball back until 21 seconds were left. They went from their 20 to their 40, where a last-second Hail Mary pass was picked off.

Arizona has the nation’s longest losing streak at 19 games.

The Wildcats looked in control early in the fourth quarter, leading 16-7 with a first down at the Washington 28. However, Will Plummer was intercepted by lineman Tuli Letuligasenoa on a short pass into traffic near the line of scrimmage.

The Huskies needed only four plays to go 71 yards, scoring on a 9-yard run by Cameron Davis with 11:39 to go to make it 16-14.

Washington ran for just 88 yards, but the passing game was buoyed by big plays from receiver Terrell Bynum, who caught five passes for 143 yards. Morris completed 13 of 21 passes for 217 yards with no interceptions.

Plummer was 13 of 20 for only 68 yards. Arizona’s Stevie Rocker Jr. ran eight times for a team-high 87 yards.

Washington cut into its halftime deficit with an 81-yard drive that was capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass to Bynum with 9:41 left in the third quarter. The Wildcats answered with a methodical running game that ate up more than seven minutes in a 15-play drive that ended with Tyler Loop’s 35-yard field goal.

The teams combined for just 41 yards in the first quarter, but an Arizona blocked punt after the first possession led to a 3-0 lead.

In the second quarter, an Arizona 10-play drive ended in Jamarye Joiner’s 1-yard touchdown run on a direct snap. The Wildcats went up 13-0 on Lucas Havrisik’s 50-yard field goal with 2:23 to go before halftime.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Jimmy Lake calls for a timeout during the third quarter against the UCLA Bruins at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Washington looks to end 2-game skid against winless Arizona

Washington doesn’t appear ready to make a quarterback change. Arizona has no choice.

The struggling teams meet Friday night in Tucson, Ariz. The Huskies (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12) make the trip to play Arizona (0-6, 0-3) on a two-game losing streak and with a quarterback, redshirt freshman Dylan Morris, who has thrown a conference-high eight interceptions.

Morris has a 5-5 record in the 10 games of the Jimmy Lake coaching era.

Lake’s other options are five-star true freshman Sam Huard and sixth-year senior Patrick O’Brien, a transfer from Colorado State.

“We are nowhere near that point right now,” Lake said of a quarterback change.

“If you go back to the last two games, we’re one, two plays away from being 3-0 in conference. So we’re close. … There’s not going to be a panic button pushed here where all the sudden, we’re just going to be rotating guys in and out at certain positions, especially an important position like quarterback.”

Washington started the season No. 20 in the preseason AP poll, but the Huskies rank 100th in scoring (23.5 points per game) and have yet to ignite the running game (112th nationally at 111.0 yards per game).

But most teams find a way to get well against the Wildcats, who have lost 18 consecutive games, the longest skid in the country. They were shut out last week at Colorado and are tied for last nationally in scoring at 14.0 points per game.

Making things worse, Arizona has lost its top two quarterbacks — Jordan McCloud and Gunner Cruz — to season-ending injuries in the past two games, leaving Will Plummer as the only scholarship option.

Plummer, who started this season in a 21-19 home loss to FCS opponent Northern Arizona, has completed 36 of 71 passes for 380 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Plummer has a penchant for trying to make big plays.

“I think the aggressive part of the play and taking shots down the field, we want that,” said Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch. “We now have to hit them. You hit on a couple of them and it’s like, ‘Wow, that’s exactly what we’re looking for.’”

The Wildcats have failed to score 20 points in nine consecutive games.

Washington, which has won the past four games in the series, did get some good news last week. Standout outside linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui made his season debut last week after returning from an Achilles’ injury. He had 10 reps, according to Lake.

“He came out of the game healthy, and I would expect him to have more plays Friday night,” Lake said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Members of the Arizona Wildcats line up across from the Colorado Buffaloes in the first quarter at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona loses 18th straight game in blowout fashion at Colorado

Colorado scored touchdowns in every phase of the game during the third quarter as the Buffaloes snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Arizona 34-0 on Saturday in Boulder.

Brendon Lewis completed 12 of 19 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns, including an 11-yarder to Dimitri Stanley with 4:08 to go in the game to complete the scoring.

The Wildcats (0-6, 0-3 Pac-12) have lost 18 consecutive games, the longest skid in the nation. Arizona was shut out for the first time since Sept. 22, 2012, at Oregon.

The Buffaloes (2-4, 1-2) held a 6-0 lead midway through the third quarter when Trevor Woods blocked an Arizona punt and then scooped the bouncing ball, taking it 32 yards for a touchdown.

Just over a minute later, Carson Wells stepped in front of a pass from Gunner Cruz and took the interception 50 yards for a score.

The offense got in on the action on Colorado’s next possession, with Lewis throwing deep for a 62-yard touchdown to Brenden Rice for a 27-0 lead with 1:42 go in the quarter.

Cruz, who started the first two games at quarterback for Arizona, returned to the starting lineup after Jordan McCloud suffered a season-ending leg injury last week. Cruz was pulled after the pick-six, which came three plays after he appeared to injure his right thumb on a scramble.

Cruz was 13 of 22 for 82 yards. Backup Will Plummer threw for 71 yards with an interception on 7-of-17 passing.

A game that featured two of the nine worst scoring offenses in the country played out to form in the first half.

Colorado settled for Cole Becker’s 19-yard field goal on its first possession, and he added a 37-yard field goal midway through the second quarter for a 6-0 lead that managed to hold up until halftime thanks to a defensive stand by the Buffaloes.

Arizona’s best drive of the half resulted in first-and-goal from the 1, but a quarterback sneak and two handoffs netted zero yards. Cruz threw incomplete into the end zone on fourth down.

–Field Level Media

Oregon's Terrance Ferguson, right, scores on a pass play from Anthony Brown Jr. during the second quarter against Arizona.

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No. 3 Oregon breaks away from Arizona late, 41-19

Oregon’s Anthony Brown threw for three touchdowns, and a big-play defense rescued the Ducks with five interceptions to help subdue winless Arizona in a 41-19 victory on Saturday night in Eugene, Ore.

Brown completed 10 of 21 passes for 206 yards for the Ducks (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12), who were in trouble entering the fourth quarter. Arizona (0-4, 0-1) — which has now lost an FBS-high 16 consecutive games — trailed just 24-19 after three periods.

But Oregon began to respond in the fourth quarter with a 43-yard field goal from Camden Lewis with 13:37 to go. After the Ducks forced their first three-and-out of the night, Oregon drove 59 yards, capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass to Spencer Webb for a 34-19 lead with 8:26 left.

Bennett Williams then sealed the victory with a 68-yard interception return for a touchdown at the 7:04 mark.

Jordan McCloud, the third starting quarterback in four games for Arizona, gave the offense a spark, completing 21 of 35 passes for 233 yards. Arizona had six drives of 10-plus plays, controlled the ball for nearly 38 minutes, and had a 435-393 edge in total yards.

But McCloud’s five interceptions — the last of which came in the final minute — were the difference in the game.

The South Florida transfer was picked off by Williams on Arizona’s first snap that set up a field goal and a 10-0 Oregon lead. The Ducks also thwarted two red-zone possessions with a pick in the end zone and another at the 1-yard line.

Oregon led 24-10 at halftime, but the Wildcats sacked Brown for a safety and pulled with 24-19 with 1:36 to go in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Drake Anderson.

The Ducks have won 15 consecutive games at Autzen Stadium.

Arizona’s losing streak is the longest in school history. The Wildcats entered Saturday’s contest coming off a home loss to FCS opponent Northern Arizona.

Oregon star edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, who had not played since the first half of the season opener because of an ankle injury, played sparingly in the first half before limping off midway through the second quarter. He did not return.

–Field Level Media