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Oregon Ducks at Arizona Wildcats: Preview and Pick
Oregon Ducks at Arizona Wildcats: Preview and Pick
The Oregon Ducks are one of the best team in all of college football. However after they lost to the Stanford Cardinal they can no longer afford to lose another game. That will be tested this week when they go up against the Arizona Wildcats in a very interesting Pac 12 clash.
Oregon Ducks at Arizona Wildcats Odds
The college football odds for this game favor the Ducks which comes as no surprise. The point spread opened with the Ducks listed as (-17.5) point favorites. The public does not seem to care about the double digits and they are pounding the Ducks with 96 percent of the early wagering willing to drop this big line. That has caused a shift in the point spread and it can now be found at (-18.5) at several o the top rated online sportsbooks.
The Ducks should win this game, but they will have to be careful of the trap. In the 11th game of last season, Oregon lost to Stanford, 17-14, in overtime. In the 11th game in 2011, Oregon lost to USC, 38-35. In the 11th game in 2009, Oregon held on to win at Arizona, 44-41, in three overtimes. The coaches didn’t have a reason, other than fatigue or overconfidence. But they are aware of it. If Oregon looks flat at Arizona this week, it won’t be from falling into the same trap. It may be just a coincidence, but the Ducks have to be focused at a time of year where they know they have fallen flat in the past. The Ducks are healthy and should be ready to make a point by blowing the doors off the Wildcats.
Oregon Ducks at Arizona Wildcats Trends
The latest college football betting trends in this game also favor the Ducks. The Ducks are 12-3 against the spread (ATS) in their last 15 games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game, 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points and 14-4 ATS in their last 18 games overall. The Wildcats are 17-39 ATS in their last 56 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game, 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game and 5-16 ATS in their last 21 games in November.
Oregon Ducks at Arizona Wildcats Pick
With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.
The only thing missing from Rich Rodriguez’s weekly news conference Monday was Aretha Franklin and her backup singers.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to Rodriguez.
With the fifth-ranked Oregon Ducks coming to Tucson on Saturday, all the coach is askin’ for is a little respect.
“It’s a huge game on a lot of levels for (Oregon), but for us, too, to try to get some national respect,” Rodriguez said. “This is a top-five team and a team that has national respect. I think every player wants to have respect; they want to feel like they belong and can play with anybody in the country. If they don’t play that way, they have the wrong mind-set. I want our players to think that way.
“This is the game you can prove it.”
The second-year UA coach said his plan for his team this week is to “appeal to their competitiveness” and make them all understand the opportunity they have against one of the country’s best.
Is a win Saturday a long shot? Sure. But that doesn’t mean the coach doesn’t want to see the best shot his team can give, especially coming off a disappointing 24-17 loss to Washington State.
“You talk about how, ‘I can play with anybody in the country’ and all this and that, but until you do it, it’s just talk, right?” Rodriguez said. “Well, this weekend, you don’t have to talk about; you can show it. If you can play with Oregon, if you can line up with that guy and beat him and he’s going to be an NFL guy or he’s talked about nationally and you’re not, well now you have a chance to get some national respect.
“That’s where it goes to the competitiveness,” the coach continued. “I’ll be very disappointed if our guys don’t compete as hard as they’ve ever competed just because of the opportunity they have with the Ducks.”
Rodriguez’s group still has a few days to fully understand the opportunity in front of them, but Monday it was clear this won’t be just another game.
“You like to take every opponent the same, but an opportunity like this, on national TV, an afternoon game with everyone watching, we get really jacked up for it,” senior nose tackle Tevin Hood said. “We definitely will get excited.”
Oregon will come to Tucson with a 9-1 record. The Ducks control their destiny in the Pac-12 after Stanford fell to USC on Saturday night in Los Angeles, and still have an outside shot at the national championship.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has battled a left-knee injury in recent weeks, told reporters Monday in Eugene, Ore., that his knee is “good” and he might shed the brace he as worn in recent weeks.
The redshirt sophomore is a Heisman Trophy candidate and has thrown for 2,819 yards, 25 touchdowns and no interceptions this season. He’s also rushed for 477 yards and nine more scores.
“Just about every pass is right on the numbers,” Rodriguez said of Mariota. “He’s as good of a college quarterback as there’s been out there the last couple of years. He’s a top-five (NFL draft) pick.
“Without question, he should be in New York for the Heisman and I think, one of the favorites.”
If you’ve thought the Arizona Wildcats offense has looked different the past couple of weeks, you’re not imagining things.
The deep passing game that made an appearance for a few weeks seems to have disappeared again.
In the UA’s past two games against UCLA and Washington State, quarterback B.J. Denker’s longest pass went for just 27 yards. Against USC, Utah and Colorado, Denker had six passes of 32 yards or more.
So what gives?
“Receivers have to get open,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “You have to be able to separate. That’s the big thing. I don’t want to say we haven’t been working hard, but we obviously haven’t taken as many shots. Teams have taken it away a little bit. So we have to run the routes crisper, and we have to have the protection.”
The passing attack the past two games has more resembled what the Wildcats looked like the first couple of weeks of the season, when Denker wasn’t taking many shots down the field. (And when he was, he was usually misfiring).
Arizona’s passing game has gone back to quick, short passes, letting Denker get rid of the ball right away and hoping the receivers can break tackles and get yards after contact.
That hasn’t worked to design lately. Now, as Arizona prepares to face an Oregon defense on Saturday that leads the Pac-12 in scoring defense, giving up 18.2 points per game, it’s important that the Wildcats not be one-dimensional in their passing attack.
“We looked at the film from last week, and we weren’t really satisfied with what we were trying to do,” receiver Trey Griffey said. “We’re going to work on it this week and do our best. Oregon plays press coverage basically, and they’re good at it. So that’s what we’re going to work on throughout the week. The scout team is going to help us out a lot.”
Denker was without Garic Wharton, one of his favorite deep targets, in Saturday’s loss to Washington State. Wharton, who was out with a hip-flexor injury, has the kind of speed to create separation off the line that Rodriguez is talking about.
Another of Denker’s favorite deep threats, David Richards, was limited against the Cougars because of a groin injury.
The coach is hopeful both will be at 100 percent against No. 5 Oregon.
One of the biggest keys in getting open on Saturday will be speed. Oregon has it; Arizona is trying to get it.
“We have a couple guys that can run, but we’re not as fast of a team as Oregon,” Rodriguez said. “They’re probably faster than just about every team in the country at most positions, and they’re probably faster than us at every position. That’s one thing we have to do in development in recruitment. We’re a little faster than last year, and we’ll be faster next year than this year if we do our job.”
Of course, it’s not solely on the receivers. Rodriguez said Denker has to play better on Saturday. The quarterback’s numbers the past two weeks — 46 for 71 for 386 yards, three touchdowns and one interception — are fine, but won’t get the job done against the Ducks.
“He has to correct the mistakes we messed up on Saturday, and he’s always been very good about that, about getting better,” Rodriguez said. “He didn’t have his best game Saturday. He did some good things, but there were some other things he’d love to have back. Knowing B.J., he’ll look at the film and will try to improve on that. He knows he’ll have to play at a high level on Saturday afternoon.”
Rodriguez said he doesn’t think defenses are playing Denker any differently the past few weeks. The quarterback just has to make the right decisions all the time.
“It’s a matter of execution,” Rodriguez said. “Whether he keeps it, hands it off, or throws it. It’s tough to make a decision on every play and always be 100 percent. But the closer you are to 100 percent, the better we’re going to score and move the ball.
“Some games he’s been closer to that 100 percent, other games he’s been on the lower end.”
Marcus Mariota has been right all along: The No. 5 Oregon Ducks just need to play out their season. In December they'll see where they land.
Case in point: The developments this weekend, when Oregon defeated Utah 44-21 a few hours before USC upset Stanford 20-17. The loss for the Cardinal popped Oregon back atop the Pac-12 North.
Should the Ducks win their next two games, they'll earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game for a shot at the Rose Bowl. As for anything else, well, that's out of Oregon's control.
''We just try and focus on what we have here. We know what we're capable of doing,'' Mariota said. ''Like we always say, we'll continue to push through it and in December we'll pick up our heads and see where we're at.''
While the Ducks are dedicated to taking care of their own business, there are still lingering questions surrounding Mariota and the health of his left knee.
It is believed that Mariota was injured a few weeks ago against UCLA. He played with a brace and appeared to be limited two weeks ago in Oregon's 26-20 loss at Stanford, which dropped the then-No. 2 Ducks out of a straight shot to the national championship and appeared at the time to deal a blow to a possible conference championship.
Oregon (9-1, 6-1) rebounded with the win over the Utes, who were hobbled by the loss of starting quarterback Travis Wilson to a concussion. Again, Mariota appeared limited, finishing with negative yardage on the ground after he was sacked three times.
Because Oregon doesn't discuss injuries, there's no way of knowing how serious the injury was - or is. Mariota was still practicing with the brace this week although he may be able to play without it this weekend at Arizona (6-4, 3-4).
While Mariota admits the brace is a bit restrictive, he maintains that his scrambling has mostly been impacted by what opposing defenses have shown, and the Ducks calling for fewer read-option plays in response.
Mariota has rushed for 477 yards this season, good for third on the team, with nine touchdowns. But more importantly, he's thrown for 25 touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Wildcats are coming off a 24-17 loss at home to Washington State. Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday threw 25 yards to Isiah Myers for the tie-breaking touchdown with 2:15 left and Arizona fell short at the end.
Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey scored two touchdowns, one on a 30-yard run and one on a 7-yard catch, and he had his 13th consecutive 100-yard rushing game, gaining 132 yards in 26 attempts. Carey is the nation's second-leading rusher at 150.3 yards per game.
Prepping for the Wildcats, the Ducks were understandably happy about the turn of events in the Pac-12. The Cardinal now have two conference losses, compared to Oregon's one.
No. 10 Stanford hosts California in the Big Game this weekend before wrapping up the regular season out of conference against Notre Dame. After Arizona, Oregon comes home to face Oregon State in the annual Civil War.
As for the Pac-12 championship game between the top finishers in the league's North and South divisions, BCS standings determine who gets home field.
''In meetings - obviously, guys were excited,'' Mariota said about the Ducks' return to work this week following the weekend's events. ''Coach (Mark) Helfrich came out and told us, `Control it, and make sure you don't get too excited and overlook anything.'''
Said Helfrich: ''Obviously, our guys know what happened. It's further evidence that we need to handle our business.''
Mariota said he watched USC's big win with his dad at Red Robin following Oregon's victory over the Utes.
''Just to see the community get excited, and for me personally to have the opportunity to play in the Pac-12 championship, is huge,'' Mariota said. ''But we can't overlook things. We can't slip up and look past Arizona.''
With a few practices now between the Ducks and the emotions of last weekend, the team held their customary non-contact Thursday practice inside the Moshofsky Center and out of the frigid Eugene air.
Helfrich and the #5 Ducks look to keep their Rose Bowl hopes alive against Arizona.
“I think our enthusiasm, our spirit, our work has been good," head coach Mark Helfrich said. "Now we just have to finish up the week and have a great Saturday.”
While Oregon does begin throttling down the physical exertion and effort with their Thursday routine (which, unfortunately for the players, includes a dip in the cold tub), that doesn't mean that they're looking to ratchet down the intensity as well.
At this point in the season, it's important for the Ducks and every other football team to have an eye towards their overall health and endurance as they come down the home stretch of the 2013 season. For Helfrich, that means making sure his guys' bodies are as fresh as possible for Saturday.
"If anything, we need more (non contact) this time of year rather than full-speed hitting this time of the week," Helfrich said. "Anything we can do at a walk-through pace, or a tempo pace ,or a meeting pace, that’s not something we taper too much.”
Helfrich also spent time Thursday discussing how his team prepares to face another spread offense, and how things may change when his staff has to prepare for a unique scheme like Arizona's in less than a week.
“I think you’re always going to scheme the strengths of your personnel and your base defense to the opponents perceived weaknesses or perceived percentages," Helfrich said. "Whether it’s limiting hitting or live-tackling...you have to rely on your guys as to what’s the best way to get them fresh.”
Oregon will hold a walk-through tomorrow before getting on a plane to Tuscon, and will face the Wildcats at 12:30 Saturday on an ESPN2/ABC national mirror broadcast.