If you don’t think the last two weeks have been challenging, this week may be the toughest challenge yet for Arizona, as they travel to Eugene to play the number one ranked Oregon Ducks.
As a student at the University of Oregon, I have been able to watch the Ducks throughout the season. And for most of the season, I thought to myself that the Oregon offense couldn’t be stopped. Until two weeks ago. On November 13th, California shut down the prolific Chip Kelly offense, and held Oregon to 15 points. Previously, the Ducks hadn’t scored less than 42 points in a game. That’s impressive, folks.
If Arizona wants a chance at beating Oregon, at Autzen Stadium remind you, then the Wildcats should take a page from the Cal defensive playbook.
What the Bears did wasn’t overly complicated. Man-to-man coverage on the outside, then box everyone else up-front in order to either stop LaMichael James, or put pressure on Darron Thomas. Both of those things Cal was able to achieve. And I would argue that Arizona has a more talented and deep defense then the Bears.
Another good thing going for the Cats? Their offense is finally starting to get on track and become healthy again. Nick Foles and Juron Criner seem to be at full strength. Also in favor for the Wildcats would be the rushing attack. Keola Antolin and Nic Grigsby together have ran for just under 1,000 yards this season, and both are averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Compare that to the 6.3 ypc that James is averaging for Oregon, and it seems minimal. But a balanced attack by Arizona will be needed in this game.
Having watched Oregon in person for much of the season, I can say that it will be very difficult for Arizona to come in to Autzen Stadium and get the win. The crowd will be extremely loud. The Oregon players, especially the seniors, will be amped up because it’s Senior Day and their last home game ever. Autzen is an intimidating place to play, and it’s very hard to come out of there with a win, unless you’re the Ducks.
But I think Arizona has a great chance to win this game. Cal showed the nation two weeks ago that Oregon’s offense could be stopped. The Wildcats must load up the box, and play aggressive man-to-man coverage on the receivers. Oregon will be out to prove the skeptics wrong. However, all the pressure is on the Ducks. Win out, and it’s off to the National Championship. For Arizona, there is absolutely no pressure. A win would be a great moment for the program, and it would help their stock in the Pac-10.
Because of home field advantage, I’m giving Oregon a 39-31 edge over the Wildcats. But it will be back and forth, until the Ducks pull away in the fourth quarter. The defense of Arizona is talented enough to contain a hurt James and a shaky Darron Thomas somewhat, but in the end, Oregon steps it up to move to 11-0.
About the Author
Written by Henry Childs
I am currently a senior at the University of Oregon studying Broadcast Journalism. Although I have a love for my Ducks, I am simply an avid college football fan trying to get a head start in the sports journalism world. Born and raised in Portland, I am also a ginormous Portland Trailblazers fan. Some of my loves include golf, Dr. Pepper, pugs, and living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.