Week 12 Game Matchup: Oregon Ducks VS. Arizona Wildcats
Oregon Ducks (8-2) vs. Arizona Wildcats (6-3)
Saturday, November 21, 5:00 PM PST
Las Vegas Favorite: Oregon -6.0
*AllPac10 Game of the Week*
Sam’s Take (46 – 18):
The race to Pasadena stops in Tucson this week, and so will ESPN College Gameday. Both Arizona and Oregon control their own destiny in the Pac-10 title race, while the fate of Oregon State and Stanford will dramatically change depending on the outcome in this one.
The recent history between Oregon and Arizona leads me to believe we are in for another entertaining thriller. Oregon has lost two of their last three games against UA, and the ‘Cats have upset a Top 25 team at home in five straight seasons.
Stanford proved that it is possible to beat the Ducks in a shootout, as long as you have an excellent QB and a balanced offensive attack. Check and check for Arizona, as QB Nick Foles actually out dueled Andrew Luck earlier this season in a 43-38 UA win. RB Nic Grigsby is expected to play, and when healthy, he provides the ‘Cats with the same dynamic ability that LaMichael James brings to UO. Arizona also has a very capable defense with tremendous speed at all three levels (UA 18th nationally in total defense), so ‘Zona has all the ingredients necessary to pull the upset.
Having said all of that, I believe the Ducks will rise to the occasion. Unless Mike Stoops finds a way to clone QB Jeremiah Masoli and RB LaMichael James, there is no way the scout team will adequately prepare UA for that tremendous misdirection spread attack. I also think Nick Aliotti’s underrated defense will prevent UA’s quick passing attack from establishing a rhythm. Sonny Dykes offense is predicated on timing, but all of the receiver screens and quick slants can be thwarted by a disruptive defense (something the Ducks clearly have).
Chip Kelly’s team understands what is on the line this week, and I fully expect to see Oregon’s best effort of the season on Saturday. The Ducks have certainly had their struggles on the road this year, but I believe they are due for a big game away from Autzen.
I think Oregon wins a high-scoring affair at the Old Pueblo, which should setup one of the best Civil War games of all time.
Prediction: Oregon 38 – Arizona 28
Oregon Player to Keep an Eye On: CB Cliff Harris – Harris is one of the best young corners in the Pac-10, and the freshman will have to be at his best against a talented UA receiving corps.
Arizona Player to Keep an Eye On: WR/KR Travis Cobb – I think Arizona will need to get something big out of the kick return game Saturday, and Cobb has already proven he can take it the distance (95 yard TD return two weeks ago).
Dave’s Take (49 – 15):
Honestly, I really don’t know what to do with myself in this game.
At first, I thought I was going to be hand-down-no-question picking Oregon. After all, it seems to be an all but forgone conclusion that they are going to put up 40+ points no matter who they are playing against; and while the defense got beat up by Stanford, it has been fairly strong all season.
But is it a sure thing that Oregon runs rampant on Arizona’s defense? It’s always difficult to actually try to look at numbers or matchups or anything else when breaking down Oregon’s offense; they just seem to shred through everything. But am I crazy for thinking that maybe, just maybe, Arizona’s very fast and talented defense might stand some chance in slowing them down a little bit?
Furthermore, why are we so quick to write off Arizona? This team did top both Stanford and Oregon State, so they have proven that they can play with the conference’s best. Nic Grigsby’s return should take some of the pressure off of Nick Foles as well.
And than there is the whole Arizona home-field advantage issue. I believe it is blown a bit out of proportion considering that both of Oregon’s losses came against excellent teams (and they are much better now than they were against Boise State), so it isn’t like the Ducks are as hopeless on the road as some are making them out to be. On the other hand, can we completely ignore that Oregon is 2-2 on the road (with the two wins coming over weak opponents in UCLA and UW), and Arizona is a perfect 5-0 at home (including wins over Central Michigan and Stanford)?
I’m not going to say that Arizona is the “better team”, but I will say they’ve got more of a chance than they are getting credit for in this one. Andrew Luck exploited Oregon’s beat up secondary, and I could see Nick Foles doing the same. It will take a near-perfect game on both sides of the ball to pull it off, but something tells me the ‘Cats have it in them.
Prediction: Arizona 41 – Oregon 38