Tough to win in Tucson: Oregon vs. Arizona
By the numbers, stats and gambling spread
No. 19 Oregon hits the road for the second straight week in Pac-12 play vs. Arizona. The Ducks (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) look to bounce back after their loss at WSU vs. the Wildcats (3-5, 2-3) in Tucson, Ariz.
Numbers to know: In Kevin Sumlin’s first year as Arizona's head coach, the Wildcats offense has been inconsistent at times but one of the nation’s best when it comes to explosive plays. Arizona is tied for sixth nationally among all FBS teams with 26 offensive plays of at least 30 yards.
Fun fact: A win would make Oregon bowl eligible for the second straight season and the 13th time in the last 14 years.
Fun fact #2: Ducks practiced in Mo Center on Wednesday to turn the temperature up to Tucson levels.
The Herbert factor: Quarterback Justin Herbert has thrown 205 consecutive passes without an interception in Pac-12 road games. He is nearing the 6,000 passing yards milestone, needing only 198 yards.
Betting line: Oregon is favored by nine and a half points.
The Wildcats started the season with a close loss to BYU. Arizona is returning for its homecoming weekend in Tucson after suffering a pair for road losses to Utah and UCLA. Last week's 31-30 loss to UCLA came without quarterback Khalil Tate and featured a pair of 100-yard rushers.
Injury updates: Tate left the game versus Utah and is questionable for Oregon. He’s been dealing with an ankle injury since Arizona’s week two loss to Houston.
Oregon's linebacker corps will be without its top backup for several weeks, after Isaac Slade-Matautia suffered a shoulder injury against WSU.
After starting running back CJ Verdell got “banged up” (injured hip flexor) against WSU, he is expected to play at Arizona.
Linebacker Kaulana Apelu says he’ll “for sure” play this weekend against Arizona.
Defensive tackle Austin Faoliu is 50-50 this week. Cristobal reported Faoliu experienced “soreness” after the WSU game.
In 2017: Oregon won 48-28 in the last match-up in which Tate was limited in Eugene.
Keys to an Oregon win
Contain J.J. Taylor: The running back leads Arizona on the ground and according to Oregon coach Mario Cristobal, Arizona's running backs are the most underrated position group in the Pac-12. The Ducks especially need to be wary on kickoffs as Taylor is leading the Pac-12 in kickoff yards, and has taken one for a touchdown this season.
Take advantage of Wildcats’ whoopsies: Arizona is among the most penalized teams in the country with 58 penalties so far at a rate of 7.25 per game. They also lead the nation in opponent penalty yards (Arizona’s last 4 opponents had almost 100 penalty yards or more). Oregon must stay disciplined.
Get the rushing attack back: Last week, Oregon rushed for 58 yards. On the season, Oregon is rushing for 87.9 per game, the lowest since 2006. The Ducks need to attack Arizona’s 103rd ranked rush defense.
Players to keep an eye on
Quarterback Khalil Tate’s status is still unknown for Saturday: His rushing numbers are down from last season due to his ankle injury (9.2 average yards per carry to 2.5) and his completion percentage has also decreased (62 percent to 53.4 percent). However, Oregon can’t underestimate Tate who has passed for 1,415 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
Running back J.J. Taylor leads all Power 5 conference players in all-purpose yardage, collecting 1,315 combined yards on rushing (817), receiving (87) and kick return (411) plays. The sophomore's 164.4 all-purpose average is third nationally among all FBS players, including best in the Pac-12.
A consensus Freshman All-American selection last season, linebacker Colin Schooler is having a solid sophomore season. The brother of Oregon wide-receiver Brenden Schooler, Colin leads Arizona with 81 tackles through five games. Schooler has 14 1/2 tackles-for-loss, which leads the Pac-12 and is third-most in the country.
Wide receiver Shawn Poindexter is coming off of a six catch for 106 yards and two touchdowns performance against UCLA. The senior has 30 catches for 552 yards and four touchdowns. He is on track to be Arizona’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Cayleb Jones in 2014.
How and where to watch
Time: Saturday, Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
Radio: KUGN-AM (590), KUJZ-FM (95.3), KZEL-FM (96.1)