ARIZONA WILDCATS (3-0)
at OREGON DUCKS (3-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Oregon -23½, Total: 77½
Offensive fireworks are expected when No. 22 Arizona visits No. 3 Oregon on Saturday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
With the total set at a whopping 77½ points, these defenses are in for a long night. Since 1994, Oregon is 15-3 SU in this series, averaging an insane 50.8 PPG during a four-game series win streak. However, Arizona is 5-2 ATS in the past seven matchups with the Ducks. The Wildcats have lost their past 10 road openers, but have scored 115 points in the past two weeks thanks to QB Matt Scott’s 724 total yards and 9 TD. Oregon is putting up 54.0 PPG and 596 total YPG this year behind 8 TD passes from Marcus Mariota plus De’Anthony Thomas’ 158 all-purpose YPG and 7 TD.
Can Oregon cover the hefty spread against a much-improved Arizona team? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
The Wildcats are averaging 605 total YPG this year, the fourth-most in the nation. Arizona’s biggest ground gainer has been sophomore Ka’Deem Carey, who rushed for 282 yards on 46 carries (6.1 YPC) with 4 TD in the two games versus FBS opponents (Toledo and Oklahoma State). He playing sparingly in the 56-0 trouncing of FCS school South Carolina State. Carey rushed for 48 yards on 12 carries in the 56-31 loss to Oregon last year. Scott has also been tough to bring down while running the football with 190 yards on 42 rush attempts (4.5 YPC) with a couple of scores. Scott has done a nice job getting everybody involved in the offense, as seven different Wildcats already have five receptions on the year. WRs Austin Hill (17 rec, 319 yds, 1 TD) and Dan Buckner (22 rec, 261 yds, 1 TD) have been Scott’s favorite targets. On the defensive side of the ball, Arizona allowed 636 yards to a high-powered Oklahoma State offense, but just 512 total yards (256 YPG) in their other two contests. The Wildcats have forced six turnovers, but have mustered only three sacks this season.
Mariota, a freshman, will be making his Pac-12 debut on Saturday, but his decision-making has been top-notch all season. He’s completed 58-of-77 passes (75%) for 674 yards, 8 TD and just 1 INT. Although sophomore De’Anthony Thomas has been outstanding this season, he did very little in last year’s win at Arizona, catching just one pass (19-yard gain) and carrying the ball just one time (3-yard run). The Wildcats won’t forget about Kenjon Barner though, as he scored three touchdowns in last year’s blowout. This season, Barner ranks fourth in the conference with 108 rushing YPG, averaging 5.8 yards per carry with six touchdowns. On defense, the Ducks are giving up 200 passing YPG (43rd in nation) and 157 rushing YPG (157 YPG), but they do have eight sacks and have forced five turnovers already.