the gauntlet has begun, and it begins with a difficult one.
The Arizona Wildcats (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) host the 12th-ranked Oregon Ducks (4-1, 2-0) on Saturday night, hoping to notch their first victory over an Associated Press Top 25 team since 2018.
Oregon is a 13-point favorite, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Who will win this duel? This is what our staff has to say:
Kim Doss — Oregon wins 42-28
Sometimes a game surprises you. This shouldn’t be one of those times. Even with the 49-3 loss against Georgia earlier in the season, the Ducks are scoring 40-plus points per game and outscoring opponents by 10 points per game. They’re averaging nearly 229 rushing yards per game, something Arizona has struggled to contain. On the other hand, Oregon has had a harder time containing the passing game than the running game by a considerable margin. That should allow Arizona to put points on the board, but it won’t be enough.
Ezra Amacher — Oregon wins 40-20
Arizona will have to play near flawless football to have a chance of winning this game. Even if Laura’s Jayden is on target and the offense breaks free for some big plays, I don’t see Arizona’s defense doing enough to stop Oregon’s machine. The Ducks not only have an experienced quarterback in Bo Nix, but they have one of the best running attacks in the country.
Running back Bucky Irving (big name) has rushed for more than 80 yards in each of Oregon’s last three games, while Noah Whittingham has averaged 67 yards per game over the same stretch. Between two explosive running backs and a matchup threat QB, Oregon will have Arizona hot on their heels all game. As others in the post have pointed out, Arizona has yet to prove that it can stop the race.
That will be the difference when Oregon take him out in the second half.
Adam Green — Oregon wins 37-27
Winning is fun, right? Unfortunately, Arizona’s schedule tightens up considerably now, with the 12th-ranked Oregon Ducks coming to town. Now, while the Ducks aren’t the best team the Cats will face this season, they definitely have more talent than Arizona and bring a style of play that should be successful in the desert.
While quarterback Bo Nix can be effective and dangerous, Oregon will lean on their conference-leading rushing game, likely to great effect. Unfortunately, Arizona has shown little ability to stop the race, and Oregon they can also passing means that simply stacking the box won’t work.
If the Wildcats want to win, they’ll need to create a couple of turnovers, which is possible. But on top of that, the offense will need to keep up momentum and score touchdowns. Laura’s Jayden and his receiving options are capable of burning down the Ducks’ secondary, but it’s hard to see them having enough success to make up for what is likely to be a disappointing defensive effort.
Brandon Combs — Oregon wins 42-35
Can’t talk about it, Arizona is hitting its toughest part of the schedule. First, Oregon.
The Ducks have been clicking since their opening loss against Georgia. Bo Nix is starting to adjust to his new team and has the offense going, averaging 50 points per game in his last 4 games. His running game is very good. And that’s what I feel will be the difference.
Arizona has had trouble stopping the race this season, it’s no secret. Against a powerful dash attack, I don’t know if they’ll be able to slow them down enough to pull this one off.
Make no mistake, though, Oregon’s defense is susceptible to giving up points against potent offenses. And I think JdL will be able to lead Arizona’s offense to success. Again, I just don’t think the defense can slow the Ducks down enough on the ground.
I’ll issue a warning: Oregon hasn’t found victory playing in Tucson recently. In 2018, the Ducks were crushed, 44-15 … against a Kevin Sumlin squad. In 2013, it was a 42-16 blowout. In fact, the last time UO won in Tucson was in 2011 (56-31). There’s always a bit of craziness going on when these two play in Old Pueblo, so I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Arizona pulls out a win.
Brian J. Pedersen — Oregon wins 41-28
This will be by far Arizona’s toughest opponent thus far, and the quality of the foe will put extra pressure on the offense to take advantage of every scoring opportunity. Oregon leads the Pac-12 in rushing, which could spell doom for a run defense that still has a lot of holes and can’t shoot well.
The AU will have an early advantage, but once it falls behind it will begin to take more risks. That’s going to lead to a mistake or two, and as potent as the offense has been, it works best when it’s not pushed.
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