Arizona (0-3) is coming off a shocking 21-19 home loss to NAU, while Oregon (3-0) has climbed to No. 3 in the Associated Press Top 25 with its hot start.
How will the UA’s Pac-12 opener go? Here’s what our staff thinks:
Ezra Amacher — Oregon 49-21
Maybe I’m a little naive in believing that Arizona can score three touchdowns against Oregon’s defense, but I think Jordan McCloud will manufacture some productive drives (unless Fisch sticks with Will Plummer, in which case the point is moot). McCloud impressed a lot of people with his play toward the end of the NAU game and in my mind has the most upside of any Wildcats quarterback. The issue will be whether Arizona’s offensive line can hold off Kayvon Thibodeaux and Co. long enough to allow McCloud to develop plays.
As for the overall outcome, let’s just hope it’s somewhat competitive. Arizona so far has shown that it will play up or down to the level of competition, and a road game against the No. 3 team in the nation is the toughest competition this team will face all season. I could see the Wildcats keeping this close for a quarter, maybe two, but Oregon’s talent will prevail — and probably dominate.
Ronnie Stoffle — Oregon 42-10
Unfortunately this will get ugly fast. However, I’ll be looking for improved offensive line play and snap share at quarterback.
I know Coach Fisch said the goal is to pick one player and stick with him for the game. I can’t imagine that happening if the offense struggles to move the ball. I personally want to see what Jordan McCloud can do because we’ve seen Gunner Cruz.
Either way it seems like they’re being set up for failure because there’s not much reason for an optimistic outcome.
Ryan Kelapire — Oregon 38-17
It would a very Arizona football thing to lose to NAU and then come out and be competitive against Oregon the very next week. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be the case. I think Arizona’s defense can keep this game close in the first half—I’m not overly impressed by Oregon’s offense—but I see the Ducks’ pass rush wrecking havoc on Arizona’s offense, no matter who the starting quarterback is. I tend to believe, because of how the NAU game ended and that Autzen Stadium is a hostile environment, that Jordan McCloud will get his first start of the season.
Will he do enough to earn another start? Or will the quarterback carousel continue?
Gabe Encinas — Oregon 56-3
I just don’t know how you come back from losing to NAU. This team could barely put up points against the first three opponents and I’m not sure how you can expect the defense to hold up in Eugene.
Just throw Jordan McCloud out there and let it rip. Hope the defense can get some stops. Cover the spread. That’s really all you can hope in this one.
Adam Green — Oregon 38-10
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice — the second time by losing to NAU — incredible shame on you. I picked Arizona to win each of the last two weeks only to be let down both games. Not this week, however. This week Arizona is going to lose, likely by a lot.
Unlike last week, when Arizona lost to a team with less talent, this week they will lose to a team with a considerable advantage in that department. Oregon is the Pac-12’s best hope to get into the playoffs, and it appears they are getting healthy just in time for this weekend’s game.
Not like Oregon needs to be at full strength because even if you feel like the Cats are better than they’ve showed, they simply do not have enough to keep up with the Ducks.
Brian J. Pedersen — Oregon 42-10
First and foremost, why was this point spread so small? You’ve got a team on a 15-game losing streak, having just dropped a home game to an FCS school, hitting the road to play the Pac-12’s only unbeaten team in a hostile environment, and the line is below four TDs? It’s gone up a little bit since then, but is still shocking that it’s not worse.
Okay, now to the game: I don’t know how Arizona is going to be able to move the ball on the Ducks considering its blocking issues, and the defense figures to be spending a lot of time on the field and will get worn down. The bye can’t come soon enough after this one, giving the Wildcats a chance to basically start over before hosting UCLA on Oct. 2.
Kim Doss — Oregon 42-7
The Ducks beat Stony Brook 48-7 last week. In addition to their loss to Oregon, the Seawolves lost to New Hampshire, which is currently ranked No. 21 in the FCS coaches poll. At this point, Arizona has not proven itself to be much more dangerous than Stony Brook, especially on the offensive side of the game.
If the Wildcats’ defense can tackle better than they did against NAU, they might hold Oregon below 42 points. Banking on that result is hard to justify when the Ducks have so many more weapons than the Lumberjacks, though.
Arizona’s offensive line has struggled to hold its own and the quarterback situation is still unsettled, so expecting more than a touchdown against the No. 3 team in the country on its home field would be a reach.