Oregon at Arizona (10/8 @ 9:00 PM EST)
Line: Oregon -13
After opening the season with an embarrassing blowout loss to Georgia, the Oregon Ducks (4-1) have gone on to win four in a row. Their best performance was undoubtedly at home when they handled a 12th-ranked BYU team. Bo Nix has been a massive upgrade at quarterback for the Ducks, playing so well that he’s inserted himself in the Heisman conversation. He’s a dual threat and already has a combined 17 touchdowns on the season. He’s surrounded by a ton of talent at the skill positions, which has made them an offense that only Georgia has been able to stop.
As talented as they are, the Ducks have struggled with penalties this season, highlighted by the 14 they committed against Stanford last week. First-year head coach Dan Lanning made this the emphasis of practice this week, but time will tell if the problem is fixed.
The Arizona Wildcats (3-2) are entering a new era for their football program. With second-year coach Jedd Fisch at the helm and a revamped roster, Arizona has shown that it can be more dangerous than the experts expected. After being picked by many to finish last in the PAC 12, they turned in a couple of surprising performances by soundly beating San Diego State and Colorado. Transfer quarterback Jayden de Laura and star receiver Jacob Cowing lead a surprisingly potent passing attack that will test Oregon’s secondary. While de Laura has had some issues with interceptions, he’s also shown the ability to move the ball quickly down the field and isn’t afraid to make the tough throws.
We may not know just how good Oregon is yet, but they will undoubtedly bring a level of speed and playmaking lightyears beyond what the Wildcats have seen this season. Given that Arizona’s defense hasn’t shown signs of life this season, the pressure will be on the offense to keep this close.
One outside factor that could weigh heavily into the outcome of this game is where the game it’s being played. The Ducks have only been to Tucson twice since 2012, and both trips ended with backbreaking losses. Not only did they lose, but they were outscored by a combined 86-31. Combine that with the fact that the Ducks are a surprising 4-3 against the Wildcats over the last seven years, and you realize why the Wildcats circle this game on the schedule. They don’t fear the vaunted Ducks in Tucson, and you can expect to see a packed (and rowdy) Arizona Stadium for this one.
Overall, we think Oregon is going to find itself in another shootout Saturday night. They’ve looked vulnerable on the road this year, as seen in the blowout loss to Georgia and the narrow win in Pullman. Arizona is expecting a big crowd, and that Stadium can trap a ton of noise when it is full (which is rarely). Combine that with Oregon’s issues with on-field discipline, and you have a recipe for an upset.
While that money line is tempting (Arizona +375), we think +13.5 is too good of a spread to pass on. Give us Arizona with the points for some easy money.