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