Arizona vs. Oregon: John Moredich’s breakdown • Tailgate special • Players to watch • Staff picks
UA OFFENSE VS. OREGON DEFENSE
Arizona has run more in recent weeks, but the Wildcats might be better suited to let quarterback Willie Tuitama drop back and throw more since Oregon ranks 97th in pass defense. That can only be done if the line can handle the loud noise and slow Oregon defenders Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu. They have combined for 29 1/2 tackles for loss and 16 sacks.
UA DEFENSE VS. OREGON OFFENSE
The Wildcats quietly are No. 13 in the country in total defense per game. UA’s strength has been against passing teams. The secondary has not been burned for a long touchdown all season. Oregon simply spreads the field and forces defenses to play on their heels with LeGarrette Blount and Jeremiah Johnson as a lethal running combination. Arizona better stop the run or it could be a long day.
Oregon doesn’t know who will do the kicking. Morgan Flint got the assignment last week against Stanford. UA’s Jason Bondzio is almost automatic, making 10 of 12 field goal attempts. Punter Keenyn Crier has the edge in leg strength over Josh Syria. Arizona needs more from its kickoff return squad.
Playing at Autzen Stadium, the loudest site this side of Texas, is a huge factor for the Ducks. They have 60 straight sellouts. . . . Oregon has been reminded all week it has lost two straight to Arizona. . . . The Wildcats have to show they are not just satisfied getting to a bowl game. They should be hungry, especially on the road.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Oregon gets the edge on the ground, but Nic Grigsby gives UA more balance in this shootout.
Final score: Arizona 34, Oregon 31
THIS WEEK’S TAILGATE SPECIAL
fresh yellow or green jalapeños, to taste
1 bunch cilantro
water, to desired consistency
salt, to taste
Dice all vegetables, place in blender and blend until chunky.
> Got a winning tailgate recipe? Send it to Tom Stauffer at email@example.com, and if we publish it in this column, we’ll send you a gift certificate for a local eatery.
UA, STAFF PICKS
John Moredich UA, 34-31
Anthony Gimino ORE, 35-28
Geoff Grammer UA, 38-30
Ken Brazzle ORE, 34-20
Steve Rivera ORE, 33-27
Michael Caccamise UA, 28-24
Dave Petruska ORE, 34-33
Bryan Lee ORE, 42-35
Michael Schmelzle ORE, 31-28
Mike Chesnick UA, 35-30
Raymond Suarez ORE, 11-8
Monica Pugno ORE, 32-24
Consensus ORE, 8-4
Consensus to date 5-4
BY THE NUMBERS
Arizona’s ranking nationally in punt returns at 17.63 yards. Mike Thomas leads the brigade with a 12.2-yard average, but Marquis Hundley and Derick Barkum have added 129 total yards.
Multitouchdown games this year by Oregon tailback LeGarrette Blount. His 14 touchdowns overall are one short of the school record set by Saladin McCullough in 1996.
Points by Arizona kicker Jason Bondzio with four games remaining, including a bowl. The only UA player to score 100 points in a season (in 2007) is on pace to do it again.
Oregon’s pass defense’s ranking. The Ducks allow 246 yards a game. Oregon is a feast-or-famine team. It either gives up big yards or gets to the quarterback, ranking 14th nationally with 30 sacks.
ON THIS DATE
1998: UA improves to 10-1 with a 27-23 win at California.
1992: A week after toppling No. 1 Washington, the Wildcats drop to 6-3-1 with a 14-7 loss at No. 18 USC.
1987: Arizona loses 12-10 at USC to fall to 4-4-2.
1981: UA pounds host Oregon State 40-7 to improve to 6-3-1.
1970: The Wildcats fall to 3-5 with a 33-17 loss at UTEP.
1964: Arizona shuts out host UTEP 14-0 to move to 5-3.
Enough on revenge!
The Pac-10 has some pretty whiny players this year. Oregon wants revenge for last year when they came to Tucson to get revenge for the year before. Next year they will really have something to whine about.
Cats will continue to recruit the same kids as Oregon for the next few years. . . . This game has a huge impact for pulling in West Coast kids. Tucson and the sunshine tower over rainy, gray Eugene, but solid bowl games and wins mean a lot to the real players. Go Cats!
I don’t believe that either team will dominate the other.
The spread is four points, presently, and that sounds about right.
I think it will be a high-scoring affair, and that our Cats will win in a nail-biter.
This is the game if the UA wants to be taken seriously . . . is the one they need to win – big game, hostile environment, good team. Willie T. needs to step up. We need to be aggressive on offense and contain on the defense.