The Arizona Wildcats are fresh off their bye week as they prepares to take on the Oregon Ducks in Eugene. The Wildcats are riding a four-game losing streak and frankly, it doesn’t appear that will be snapped this weekend.
Saturday’s kickoff is schedule for 8:30 p.m. MST and will be televised on ESPN.
Here’s a quick look at the Ducks:
2019 Record: 8-1 (6-0)
- Week 1 loss vs Auburn (27-21)
- Week 4 win at Stanford (21-6)
- Week 8 win at Washington (35-31)
- Week 9 win vs Washington State (37-35)
- Week 10 win at USC (56-24)
Key Offensive Players: Justin Herbert (QB), CJ Verdell (RB), Jacob Breeland (TE), Jaylon Redd (WR), Shane Lemieux (LG)
Key Defensive Players: Austin Faoliu (DT), Troy Dye (LB), Isaac Slade-Matautia (LB), Thomas Graham Jr. (CB), Jevon Holland (Safety)
Second-year head coach Mario Cristobal has his team in prime position to make the College Football Playoff. Their season opened with a fourth-quarter collapse against then ranked No. 16 Auburn which is their only blemish of the season.
They have had close calls on the road at Washington and even at home against Washington State. The Ducks were trailing in the fourth quarter of both of those games but were able to seize victory.
As expected, senior quarterback Justin Herbert is having a tremendous season. He enters Saturday’s matchup with a 24-to-2 touchdown:interception ratio and 2,329 passing yards while completing 69.4 percent of his throws.
The offensive line is a big reason for Herbert’s success. The left side of the line specifically is arguably the best in the country with guard Shane Lemieux and tackle Penei Sewell.
Running back CJ Verdell has been having a special season as well. He has recorded 765 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He has also caught 13 passes for 122 yards.
The receivers aren’t as flashy as some of the top groups in the country like Alabama, LSU or even USC. It has really been a receiver by committee effort. The bulk of the production has been accounted by tight end Jacob Breeland and receivers Jaylon Redd and Johnny Johnson III.
These three account for 96 receptions, 1,153 yards and 15 touchdowns. Redd has also found the end zone twice on the ground.
Beyond these three, however, there are seven additional players with at least 10 catches and/or 100 receiving yards. The bottom line is Herbert has favorite targets but he’s not afraid to share the wealth.
For the most part, Oregon has looked dominant throughout the year defensively speaking. The aforementioned Washington and Washington State games were the only two conference games where the Ducks appear vulnerable on that side of the ball.
Linebackers Troy Dye and Isaac Slade-Matautia have been the anchors of the defense. They are the team’s leading tacklers and have even combined for nine Passes Defended.
The secondary has been exceptional as well. Safety Jevon Holland and cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. have recorded 39 and 38 Total Tackles, respectively. They also do very well against the pass as they’ve combined for nine Passes Defended and five Interceptions.
Las Vegas opened this game with Oregon as 24.5 point favorites. I suspect this line will continue to grow as we approach Saturday.
Too many things have to happen for Arizona to win this game that it almost feels like an impossible feat. Not to mention the Ducks have likely been counting down the days to avenge the embarrassment that was last season’s 44-15 loss in Tucson.
If your significant other has lost their patience with your commitment to watching Arizona’s previous nine games, this might be the weekend to pass on watching and make Saturday a date-night instead.