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Oregon expert previews the Arizona game, makes a score prediction

Fresno State v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

After being stunned by NAU, the Arizona Wildcats (0-3) will try to snap their 15-game losing streak on Saturday against the No. 3 Oregon Ducks in Eugene.

The Ducks (3-0) have wins over Fresno State, Ohio State and Stony Brook so far. We wanted to know more about them before kickoff, so we caught up with Adam Chimeo of our sister site to get some more insight.

Here’s the Q&A.

Ryan Kelapire: What were expectations like for Oregon heading into this season?

Adam Chimeo: Anywhere from 9-3 to 11-1 in the regular season seemed to be about where most Duck fans were expecting. Pessimists were cautioning to be wary of a week-one upset by Fresno State, but overall the vast majority of what I read around the webfootisphere was we’d likely leave non-conference play 2-1 with a loss to Ohio State in Week 2.

Arizona, Colorado and Washington State were seen by most as likely wins, while road trips to Pasadena, Seattle, and Salt Lake City loomed large as potential losses on the schedule. As you can imagine, that win over Ohio State drastically changed a lot of expectations, and now Duck fans are hoping that they can beat everyone they’re favored against, which would take them back to another playoff appearance.

RK: Do you think the Ducks are as good as their No. 3 ranking indicates?

AC: Well, they have a win that’s undeniably at least a top three win so far on their resume, and the teams behind them (No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes, No. 6 Penn State, No. 7 Texas A&M) have all looked shaky enough to stay below Oregon for the moment. So, yeah, why not. Especially considering our best player (defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux) has only played one half of football so far, and is due back any week now.

RK: What have been Oregon’s strengths and weaknesses so far?

AC: Strengths: Our veteran running backs have looked great thus far. Anthony Brown Jr. has taken in Joe Moorhead’s playbook very well, and his RPO and option game has proven difficult to defend. When we’re fully healthy we have three 5-stars on defense, though Arizona will likely only see one (maybe two if Kayvon Thibodeaux gets the go-ahead). And what’s proven to be our biggest strength is our depth on defense, which has proven useful given our huge list of injured players.

RK: How would you grade Anthony Brown’s play so far?

AC: He definitely has a few limitations, mainly accuracy. However, he offsets that with a tremendous understanding of the offense. He’s a real threat with his legs and he’s proven that he can win even when the pressure is on. Considering the guy gave Oregon its first win over Ohio State in 10 attempts, I’ll give him a very biased A++.

RK: Other than Brown, who are some Oregon players UA fans should know about?

AC: Noah Sewell is a terror at inside linebacker! You’ll for sure know he is by halftime. Hopefully either 5-star passrusher Kayvon Thibodeaux sees the field this week, if so he’ll be worth the price of admission. Running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye are sure to have big days, and I wouldn’t be surprised if true freshman, 6-foot-4 receiver Dont’e Thornton catches multiple touchdowns in the second half.

RK: What concerns you about this Arizona game?

AC: Honestly, getting more players on the injury list. Specifically at linebacker, where we’ve had five players miss at least one game. Another injury there could prove very bad for the Duck D. It appears Anthony Brown Jr. is set to return to the field after missing the second half against the Stony Brook Seawolves, but if he ends up sitting out then freshman QB Ty Thompson will once again lead the team. He looked great last week, but maybe the Wildcats defense would be able to shake a true freshman early on and make it a game.

RK: What does Oregon need to do to avoid an upset?

AC: Stick to their game plan and avoid injury. Create a pass rush and continue to force turnovers, and take advantage of scoring opportunities.

RK: Score prediction?

AC: Ducks pull away early and never look back. The Wildcat offense is only able to score a couple field goals in the first half.

Oregon 49 - Arizona 6