Arizona Wildcats

Oregon swagged out in nightmare green and yellow for Pac-12 After Dark

Oregon swagged out in nightmare green and yellow for Pac-12 After Dark

Looking to punch their tickets to the Pac-12 Championship game, the No. 6 Oregon Ducks will be swagged out in yellow and nightmare green ­­­­on Saturday at 7:30 p.m in Autzen Stadium. Ducks fans are encouraged to wear green to the crucial matchup.

Oregon's "Nike Vapor Fusion" uniform is celebrating its 20th anniversary of their partnership with Nike. The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature large "Mighty Oregon" font resembling last season's "Oregon Football 2.0" uniform with slight differences. The addition of Nightmare Green is the biggest change while notably no black set was released (yet). 

Coming off a bye, a Duck win this Saturday vs. Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) would clinch their third North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship. A victory keeps the Ducks in the running as a College Football Playoff contender.

Numbers to know: In the last 12 games between Oregon and Arizona, the Ducks are 7-0 when scoring more than 40 points per game and 0-5 when scoring less than 40.

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How Oregon can beat Arizona to become kings of the North

How Oregon can beat Arizona to become kings of the North

No. 6 Oregon (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) is on track to the Pac-12 Conference Title game and in the running as a College Football Playoff contender. Coming off a bye, a Duck win this Saturday vs. Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) would clinch their third North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship.

Numbers to know: In the last 12 games between Oregon and Arizona, the Ducks are 7-0 when scoring more than 40 points per game and 0-5 when scoring less than 40.

Fun factOregon leads the nation with 17 interceptions, which is the program's most through nine games since 1988. The Ducks' 11.78 points off turnovers per game ranks second in the country and is a major contributing factor in the Ducks’ eight-game winning streak.

Betting line: Oregon opened as 26.5 point favorites over Arizona, which marks the Ducks’ sixth straight home game as a double-digit favorite.

Players to keep an eye on

Running back J.J. Taylor

With 3,108 career rushing yards, J.J. Taylor has the 12th most rushing yards by any active Division I player. He has also moved up to No. 6 on Arizona's career rushing list and is 56 yards away from passing Mike Bell for fifth all-time.  

Oregon had no answer for Taylor in last season’s Arizona win, rushing for 212 yards on 30 carries and two touchdowns against UO. Taylor has 566 yards and five touchdowns this season.

Linebacker Colin Schooler

Schooler has 42 career tackles-for-loss, which is tied for fourth-most by an active Division I player. His 37 career solo tackles for loss are second-most nationally by an active player and the most by a linebacker.

What’s the deal at quarterback?

Oregon is preparing for both true senior Khalil Tate and freshman Grant Gunnell. Tate has started in Arizona’s last four games (all loses) but has split time with Gunnel in all of those starts.

Tate has passed for 6,001 yards in his career, which ranks sixth-most in program history. The senior is erratic at times and sensational at times. Gunnell has completing 66.4 percent of his passes this year, which currently ranks as the best ever by an Arizona freshman quarterback.

3 keys to an Oregon victory

Playing with passion, not emotion

Arizona has beaten Oregon in each of the past three matchups where the Wildcats enter unranked and the Ducks enter ranked. The Wildcats upset No. 19 Oregon last season. With redemption on the horizon, the Ducks must play with focused passion instead of blurred vengeance. Coming off a bye week, it’d be easy for Oregon to lose the positive momentum of its eight-game winning streak. Those uncharacteristic penalties must be eliminated. Staying disciplined and setting the tone early is important for an Oregon victory.

Limit big Wildcat plays

Arizona has had five plays go for 70 or more yards this season. Only Oklahoma State, Alabama, Colorado State and UCF have more. The Wildcats’ total offense (495.8 yards per game) ranks second in the Pac-12 and 12th in the country. The Duck defense must limit Arizona’s receivers and Taylor to short plays to keep this potential season altering upset at bay.

Let Herbert loose

Fresh off a three-touchdown pass performance against USC, Herbert’s elite arm should light up a suspect Arizona defense. Herbert connected on 20 of his final 21 passes after starting the game 1-for-5 and tacked on a rushing touchdown. Now, it’s time to build on that dominance this Saturday. I expect Herbert to continue to find wide receiver Juwan Johnson, continuing to bloom their explosive chemistry.

Fun fact, Oregon is averaging 44.2 points per game in Justin Herbert's 20 career starts (17-3) at Autzen Stadium.

How and where to watch

Time: Saturday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m. (PT)

Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon

TV: ESPN

Radio: KUGN-AM (590), KUJZ-FM (95.3), KZEL-FM (96.1)

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

Oregon (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) is on track to the Pac-12 Conference Title game and in the running as a College Football Playoff contender. The Ducks have three conference games left and Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) is the next opponent they must beat. The Ducks are coming off a bye with a lot on line… Here are 10 numbers you need to know about the 7:30 p.m. kickoff in Autzen Stadium.

CROWN ON THE LINE

A Duck win against the Wildcats in the Pac-12-After-Dark game would clinch the North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship. It would be Oregon’s third Pac-12 North crown.

AMONG THE NATION’S ELITE

Oregon is one of five FBS teams (Baylor, Clemson, Minnesota, Ohio State) off to a 6-0 start in conference play. 

BETTING LINE

Oregon opened as 26.5 point favorites over Arizona, which marks the Ducks’ sixth straight home game as a double-digit favorite.

BALL HAWKS

Oregon leads the nation with 17 interceptions, which is the program's most through nine games since 1988. The Ducks' 11.78 points off turnovers per game ranks second in the country and is a major contributing factor in the Ducks’ eight-game winning streak. Jevon Holland and Verone McKinley III each have four picks, leading the team. Eleven different Ducks have recorded an interception.

DON’T MESS WITH HOLLAND

Holland, a sophomore, leads active Pac-12 players in career interceptions with nine. The Jim Thorpe semifinalist is tied for the most career interceptions among sophomores in the nation.

UPSET HISTORY

Arizona has beaten Oregon each of the past three matchups where the Wildcats enter unranked and the Ducks enter ranked. The Wildcats topped No. 19 Oregon, 44-15 last year that featured Arizona running back J.J. Taylor rushing for 212 yards and two scores.

THE MAGIC NUMBER, 40

In the last 12 games between Oregon and Arizona, the Ducks are 7-0 when scoring more than 40 points per game and 0-5 when scoring less than 40.

GOOD INJURY UPDATE

Oregon’s top two running backs, backs CJ Verdell (groin) and Cyrus Habibi-Likio (quad) are expected to play against Arizona. Starting right guard Dallas Warmack (hip flexor) is also good to go.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE TAYLOR

Arizona’s rushing attack ranks second in the Pac-12, led by JJ Taylor who is ninth in the Pac-12 in rushing with 566 yards. The Wildcats’ total offense (495.8 yards per game) ranks 12th in the country and second in the conference.

EXPLOSION PLAY ALERT

Arizona has had five plays go for 70 or more yards this season. Across the country, only Oklahoma State, Alabama, Colorado State and UCF have more.

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Oregonian Brady Breeze earning title as a momentum changer

Oregonian Brady Breeze earning title as a momentum changer

Brady Breeze is one of the best Ducks to interview after a game. Reporters huddle around the junior who wears a huge smile and leaves an easy-breezy impression. The safety keeps it real and produces some of the best story-leading quotes.

On the senior linebacker Troy Dye’s infamous dance to “Shout” during Oregon’s home opener and domination of Nevada:

"He was just having fun, today was a day to have fun,” Breeze said after the victory. “Sometimes when you are playing football, you are so focused on making a call or the next play, that you don’t enjoy that you are playing in front of thousands of people and living your dream."

The Central Catholic High School standout referenced the 1994 ‘Gang Green’ Ducks following Oregon’s 45-3 whooping of Colorado:

“We’re rocking and rolling right now," Breeze said. "We’ve still got to get better… We’re trying to be Gang Green 2.0. That’s what we talk about. I’m excited to see what we can do with this defense."

The Medford, Oregon-native has been dreaming about starting for Oregon since he was a kid, looking up to the play of former Duck John Boyett. Due to a second half targeting call on Nick Pickett at USC, Breeze is set to make his first collegiate start against Arizona. Regardless of Pickett's status, Breeze "has certainly earned the right to be on the field more," Cristobal said.

“This is my fourth season at Oregon, and I’ve never started a game," Breeze said. "It’s been a little frustrating, but it’s alright… That’s something I can check off my bucket list. But I can’t really focus too much on that. We’ve got to focus on Arizona because they’ve got a good quarterback and a good team."

Yes, he talks the talk. He’s also walking the walk.

Breeze earned Pac-12 defensive player of the week after leading the No. 7 Ducks with a career-high seven tackles in Oregon’s win at USC. He provided momentum-changing plays in the chippy game including a pick-six and a fumble recovery. Breeze made the type of hustle plays that opened Cristobal’s eyes a little wider.

"Brady played a great game. You want to talk about making big-time plays, he did and he changed the momentum of the game,” Cristobal said. “It speaks volumes for him. He’s certainly earned the right to be on the field more so we got to make sure we make that happen.”

Working with the first team defense, the opportunity for Breeze to continue to swing the momentum is clear. Oregon will face Arizona in Autzen Stadium on Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Instant Analysis: Beavers tame the Wildcats in 56-38 victory

Instant Analysis: Beavers tame the Wildcats in 56-38 victory

The Beavers are leaving Tucson with a .500 record this late into the season for the first time since 2014. 

With a 56-38 victory, the Oregon State Beavers (4-4, 3-2 Pac-12) have won their third-consecutive conference road game for the first time since 2013, which is also the last time they played in a bowl game. 

For the Arizona Wildcats (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12), this is their fourth-consecutive loss after starting Pac-12 play 2-0. 

Here are some instant reactions to the Beavers big win.

JERMAR GIVES THE OFFENSE A BOOST

Despite questions of whether he would redshirt, sophomore running back Jermar Jefferson returned to the lineup on Saturday. He did not start due to Artavis Pierce winning the job in Jefferson’s absence. However, he had himself a game. 

Jefferson ended the game with 22 carries for 105 yards and three touchdowns. He had two rushing touchdowns in the first half alone to help the Beavers get a significant halftime lead. Throughout the game when he got the ball, we saw the same player that had Beaver Nation so excited last season. With Pierce and Jefferson splitting the workload, both running backs can go all out when they carry the rock and should be a spark to make the Beavers offense even more dangerous. 

DEFENSE PLAYED WELL ENOUGH

A season ago, the Beavers’ defense played a large part in their disappointing season. Going into this season many did not expect much progress on that side of the ball. After their performances against Oklahoma State and Hawai’i to start the season, those concerns look to be warranted. But once conference play began, the defense stepped up.

Even when they couldn’t get off the field today, the Beavers defense did not give up touchdowns easily. Arizona’s first two redzone trips resulted in field goals and once they did score a touchdown, they could not convert the two-point conversion. Then again in the second half, the Beavers stopped another two-point conversion. When it mattered most, the Beavers defense made the plays they needed to. 

Late in the first half, standout outside linebacker Hamilcar Rashed Jr. came up with back-to-back sacks to get the Beavers the ball back. Luton would then lead a one-minute drill to take a 35-19 lead. 

Although the Wildcats did score a lot today, some of that was the Beavers beating themselves. The Beavers missed numerous tackles in the second half to get off the field and committed too many penalties. 

TOO MANY PENALTIES

So many flags flew when the Beavers defense played, the announcers joked “today isn’t Flag Day is it?” In the first half, Arizona’s second touchdown drive saw the Beavers get called for two roughing-the-passer penalties and two facemask penalties. It doesn’t matter that the roughing-the-passer penalties were questionable, the Beavers cannot even put them in a position for the refs to call it. If they don’t help Arizona with those free yards, maybe their redzone defense could have kept them out of the endzone.

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Oregon State Beavers in action vs. Arizona, follow along on social for updates

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Oregon State Beavers in action vs. Arizona, follow along on social for updates

The Oregon State Beavers (3-4, 2-2 Pac-12) will battle the Arizona Wildcats (4-4, 2-3 Pac-12) with both teams hoping to get one step closer to bowl eligibility. 

A win for the Beavers would make them 0.500 this late into the season for the first time since 2014. They are also in search of their first bowl appearance since 2013. A win today would go a long way given the rest of their schedule includes much better opponents. 

Arizona will play two quarterbacks in Khalil Tate and Grant Gunnell and will be debuting a new defensive coordinator. Learn about them and eight more facts in our 10 things to know article about the contest.

Ron Callan and Dylan Mickanen will also be covering the game so follow along on this blog, and on social media.

Check back for updates on the games and highlights.

HODGINS AGAIN

The Beavers cap off a 9-play opening drive with a touchdown pass to Isaiah Hodgins. 

WELCOME BACK JERMAR

In his first significant playing time since Hawai'i, Jermar Jefferson made his return as the backup running back. However, that didn't stop him from scoring in his first game back.

JERMAR AGAIN

After a 39 yard catch by Hodgins, Jefferson punched it in for his second touchdown of the day.

PIERCE'S TURN

Artavis Pierce also got his chance to put some points on the scoreboard.

TOGIAI BEFORE THE HALF

Jake Luton led a two-minute drill to end the half and find tight end Tommy Togiai wide open in the endzone.

HAT TRICK FOR JERMAR

Jermar Jefferson runs in his third touchdown of the afternoon.

HODGINS STRECTHES FOR THE ENDZONE

Lutin hits Hodgins for his second touchdown of the day.

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OSU vs Arizona: 10 Things to Know

OSU vs Arizona: 10 Things to Know

Oregon State (3-4, 2-2 Pac-12) looks to continue to surpass expectations with another victory this weekend in Tucson, AZ against the Arizona Wildcats (4-4, 2-3 Pac-12). 

Arizona looks to right the ship after dropping three straight games to fall to 0.500 on the season. The Beavers look to become 0.500 this late into the season for the first time since 2014. 

Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the game.

BEAVERS = ROAD WARRIORS?

The Beavers are aiming for their first three-game road win-streak since 2013. They are also looking for their third conference victory of the season which hasn’t happened since 2013. 

KEEP HOPE ALIVE

A win would keep their Pac-12 championship hopes alive. As it stands today, if the Beavers win out and the Ducks slip up against an opponent before the Civil War, the Beavers would win the Pac-12 North. 

However a more realistic goal would be to become bowl eligible. Given the Beavers rest-of-season schedule, this game is a must-win if they want to play in a bowl game at all. 

ONE QB NOT ENOUGH FOR ZONA

Heading into the season, the quarterback job looked to be Khalil Tate’s to lose. Well, he hasn’t lost it yet but it’s close. The former Heisman hopeful has had to sit for numerous series in favor of true freshman quarterback Grant Gunnel. Tate is electric in the open field and more of a dual threat quarterback while Gunnel operates from the pocket. The Beavers will need to prepare for both.

NEW D-COORDINATOR FOR ZONA

After allowing 113 points in three consecutive losses, Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin fired defensive coordinator Marcel Yates in favor of former-player Chuck Cecil. With only six days on the job ahead of the game, Cecil will not have time to implement new schemes for the defense but maybe he can create a spark.

BEAVERS DEFENSE TERRORIZES THE BACKFIELD

The Beavers have a Pac-12 leading 60 tackles-for-loss this season. That would be their most in a season since 2014. The standout has been redshirt junior Hamilcar Rashed Jr. who leads the Pac-12 in both tackles-for-loss (14.5) and sacks (9.0). Both rank fourth in the country. 

LUTON TO HODGINS

Jake Luton has now thrown 15 touchdown passes to Isaiah Hodgins in their Oregon State careers. That is tied for the third-most between a QB and wide receiver in OSU history. Look for them to move into second on Saturday. 

HODGINS IS AN ALL TIME OSU TALENT

Speaking of Hodgins, he has 745 receiving yards this season, second in the Pac-12 and 12th nationally. He is also the Pac-12 leader for receiving yards per game at 106.4 (ninth in the country). His 1,896 career receiving yards is ninth in school history. He only needs 147 yards to catch Robb Thomas for eighth. He is also seventh for career touchdown receptions with 17. Hodgins has accounted for a first down or touchdown on 90 of his last 115 receptions.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS

Punter Daniel Rodriguez is the first Beaver to earn two Pac-12 Player of the Week honors in the same season since QB Sean Mannion in 2013. The redshirt junior won special teams player of the week for his dropkick kickoff against UCLA, and two weeks ago against Cal. 

WHO WILL KICK?

Speaking of special teams, the kicking competition rages on. Junior Jordan Choukair had the starting job heading into the season, but has missed four of six field goals attempted. Against Utah, Choukair got benched in favor of freshman Everett Hayes, who missed his lone field goal attempt. However, against Cal, Hayes made all three extra point attempts. It appears that Hayes will continue to kick but coming off a bye week, maybe Choukair will get another opportunity. 

OSU'S RUN GAME MOVES FORWARD

Running back Artavis Pierce has stepped up in Jermar Jefferson’s absence excellently. The senior is only 163 rushing yards short of being only the 11th Beaver to pass the 2,000-yard mark. This season alone, he has 583 rushing yards on 6.0 yards per attempt and five touchdowns.

But not all the credit goes to Pierce, OSU’s offensive line has allowed only 33 tackles-for-loss, the second-fewest in the Pac-12.

 

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Coach Smith on “explosive” Khalil Tate and Arizona’s multiple QB system

Coach Smith on “explosive” Khalil Tate and Arizona’s multiple QB system

 

The Oregon State Beavers (3-4, 2-2 Pac-12) travel to Tucson, AZ in search of being 0.500 this late into the season for the first time since 2014. 

But they’ll have their hands full with Arizona (4-4, 2-3 Pac-12) and their “explosive” quarterback Khalil Tate. Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith detailed his big play ability during Monday’s press conference.

“I watched the tape against Stanford. The guy ripped off, like a 60-yard touchdown run. The guy’s [an] explosive player.”

However, Arizona has been playing multiple quarterbacks this season due to Tate’s struggles. As a result, true freshman Grant Gunnell has seen inconsistent playing time. However, he completed all seven of his pass attempts against Stanford including one touchdown pass. 

Gunnel was a pro-style quarterback coming out of high school while Tate is a dual threat option, and the Beavers will need to prepare for both.

“We’re gonna watch the tape...I think it’s just hard to make wholesale changes in 6 day’s span. We’re planning on seeing what they’ve put on tape, and be ready to make some adjustments if it’s different in the first quarter.”

Smith later discussed how different the offenses will look depending on the quarterback in the game.

“They’re playing two quarterbacks now, which do have two different skill sets. The offense isn’t totally different when the other guy’s in, but they can score in bunches. You just look at their stats and their tape, and they present some problems.”

Oregon State’s game against Arizona kicks off at 1:30pm on Saturday in Tucson, AZ.

You can watch Smith’s full answers in the video above.

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Oregon's momentum surges: Ducks beat Arizona on senior night

Oregon's momentum surges: Ducks beat Arizona on senior night

Oregon’s defense kept them in the game against Arizona (17-13, 8-9 Pac-12) in a fight for Pac-12 Conference standings and momentum ahead of the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Ducks held the Wildcats to their lowest point total of the season and 31 percent shooting from the field.

Oregon (17-12, 8-8) seniors Ehab Amin and Paul White drew loud ovations from 11,339 fans in their Matthew Knight Arena finale. Both White (five points, five rebounds) and Amin (six points, two rebounds) had solid performances in the 73-47 victory.

"Coach has been telling me just to stay positive, just be ready whenever you're called," Amin said. "That's all I can control, is staying ready."

On senior night, the Ducks’ young lineup had incredible success in a game plagued with streaks. After falling behind 9-0, the Ducks blazed forward and strung together a 5:23 stretch with four freshman in the lineup (Will Richardson, Louis King, Miles Norri, Francis Okoro, plus Amin,) in a 13-0 run to get back in the game. Arizona closed the half on a 17-6 run to tie the game at 31-31.

Oregon went on a 10-0 run to start the second half and never lost the lead.

King once again led the Ducks with 14 points and seven rebounds. The freshman has now scored double-figures in 15 of 16 Pac-12 games this season.

Also notable, junior guard Payton Pritchard passed Terik Brown (1,152/1995-99) for 28th in Oregon career scoring. Pritchard scored 12 vs. ASU and currently has 1,159 career points.

Coming off a home stand victory over Arizona State, the Ducks showed fight, added to their positive momentum and halted Arizona’s four game winning streak.

By the way, Oregon football head coach Mario Cristobal was in attendance for senior night.

The victory moves Oregon into a tie for fifth in the conference and one game out of fourth place, which provides a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. Could you make a case for Oregon to get hot and win the tournament?

Oregon upsets Arizona: Quick takeaways

Oregon upsets Arizona: Quick takeaways

Oregon just upset Arizona (13-5, 4-1 Pac-12) at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz., 59-54. A few takeaways from the big win:

The Ducks handed the wildcats their first Pac-12 loss with huge help from their defense and rebounding. Oregon held Arizona to 37 percent shooting from the field.  Oregon had nine offensive rebounds that led to 11 second-chance points. 

The return of Kenny Wooten: After not disclosing whether Wooten would play against Arizona or not, Wooten suited up and played 25 minutes with a full-face mask. His impact was immediate with an inside presence that Arizona didn't have an answer for. He finished with five points, seven rebounds and one block (although it looked more like two or three). 

Payton Pritchard's Duck legacy continues: He scored his 1,000th career point. The only Oregon native scholarship player on the roster, Pritchard is 37th in UO history to reach that milestone. 

Paul White continues to step up: The senior led UO with 16 points and five rebounds. The win marks his fifth consecutive game with double-figure points. 

Oregon closed out a tight victory: Single digits have decided six of the last seven meetings between Oregon and Arizona. To close out the game, the Ducks grabbed three offensive rebounds and Louis King made three of four free throws with 90 seconds to go. 

The Ducks improve to 2-2 in Pac-12 conference play, 11-6 overall. Next up, Arizona State.