Tonight at 7:30 pm the No. 3 Oregon Ducks (3-0) will play host for Pac-12 South foe No. 22 Arizona (3-0) in what some are calling a preview of the Pac-12 championship game. The Wildcats have had an impressive start under new coach Rich Rodriguez with the staple win being a 59-38 victory over then No. 18 Oklahoma State.
Oregon likely needs a win to keep their BCS title dreams alive. Will they get it tonight? Here’s what the experts at EDN say.
Oregon, unfortunately, has looked so good at times in this young season – like the first half of the Arkansas State win – but also incredible vulnerable – like the end of the Fresno State win. So far, they’ve proven nothing. Here is where we see if Nick Aliotti’s heralded defense can hold up to the offensive fire power of Arizona. Arizona had one of the worst rushing attacks in the country last season but have a more experienced offensive line and a star in Ka’deem Carey.
With both of these high-tempo offenses, don’t be surprised if both defenses are going to be exhausted by the final whistle. The key to the game will be the rotation and depth of the Oregon defense. With Oregon utilizing their deep rotation at every unit, it will be tough for Arizona to find a weakness to exploit.
Expect this game to be similar to the 2008 matchup between these two schools when Oregon led 45-35 at halftime. This game will stay close for awhile before the Ducks ultimately begin to pull away.
And now the season truly begins. After dispatching a trio of non-conference opponents with ease, the Ducks welcome Rich Rodriguez’s Arizona Wildcats to Autzen Stadium. And this one won’t be easy by any means.
Thought to be in a transitional phase coming into the season, the Wildcats have thrived under Rodriguez’s spread offense, averaging 46.3 points per game thus far including a 59-38 upset over Oklahoma State. Quarterback Matt Scott and running back Ka’Deem Carey have fueled Arizona’s attack, and though Oregon’s defense has shown steady signs of improvement – most notably in the front seven – the Ducks are not likely to stop the Wildcats from scoring.
On the flip side, however, the Arizona has little to no chance of stopping Oregon. Marcus Mariota and Kenjon Barner will need to turn in quality performances, but really, all eyes will be on one man: De’Anthony Thomas. Fresh off his Sports Illustrated cover, Thomas is likely to get many more touches than in any of the first three games. In a game that could very well be close in the fourth quarter, Chip Kelly would be doing himself a disservice to stray from the most dangerous player in football – the Black Mamba.
If you’re looking for one word to describe Saturday night’s top 25 matchup in Eugene between the No. 22 Arizona Wildcats and No. 3 Oregon Ducks, the proper word to use here is shootout. These are two of the fastest offenses in the nation, both running a no huddle spread offense. The Wildcats have a lethal air attack, averaging over 357 passing yards per game. They also rank in the top 20 in the nation in rushing yards (247, 18th in FBS) and points per game (46.3, 12th in FBS). The Ducks meanwhile, have one of the nation’s top rushing attacks, averaging 329 yards per game (4th in FBS).
Oregon also ranks fifth in the FBS in points per game at 54. Look for Arizona quarterback Matt Scott to try and pick apart the Oregon secondary, which will be tested with All-American safety John Boyett out for the year. While the Ducks come into this game as 22-point favorites, the game should be much closer than that. This will be the first true test for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, and don’t be surprised if he starts a little shaky. Luckily for Oregon, they can turn to Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas in the backfield, who have combined for over 750 offensive yards along with 13 total touchdowns.
This game will go back and forth and see a lot of lead changes, but by the end of the night, the Oregon defense will make enough stops to hang on for an 11-point win.