If Oregon's defense wanted tests to prove itself after getting embarrassed by Georgia, it certainly got them. From BYU to Washington State and Stanford, to this upcoming week against Arizona, this schedule is throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the Ducks.
While Oregon's run defense has been proving to be one of its strongest assets, the pass defense has left a bit to be desired. But that's changed in the last few weeks, as the pass defense has made big plays and has frustrated the opponents' top wide receivers.
Now they face another big challenge from the Wildcats.
Arizona may not look like the strongest team on paper, sitting at 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Pac-12 play. They've had wins against San Diego State, North Dakota State, and Colorado, but losses to Mississippi State and even Cal.
But make no mistake, this game isn't setting up to be a cakewalk. In their last three games the Wildcats have put up at least 30 points, including 43 against Colorado last week.
Led by quarterback Jayden de Laura, who has put up 1,633 yards through the air and an additional 54 on the ground, the Wildcats have a do-it-all playmaker. They also have a talented group of wide receivers led by UTSA transfer Jacob Cowing and Dorian Singer, who have put up 566 and 450 yards respectively. Michael Wiley leads the rushing attack with 287 yards of his own on the ground.
This will be another big road test for Oregon. The last time they were on the road, they barely escaped Pullman after a full-on offensive shoot out.
While Arizona doesn't have a "marquee win", they will no doubt be looking to take Oregon down a peg before the Ducks enter their bye week.
Dan Lanning acknowledged that this was a good team saying earlier this week, paying particular attention to their weapons on the outside.
"They have really really talented wide outs, but I think this quarterback really can play well," he said during his Monday press conference.
He would later mention that Arizona is sometimes their own greatest competition and that some of their hardship has been self inflicted.
"There hasn't been a lot of teams that have really slowed them down offensively. They only maybe hurt themselves a couple of times to be honest."
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The Ducks beat out Ohio State and Penn State for a talented playmaker.
He's not wrong.
The Wildcats have put up at least 30 points in all but one game, which was when they scored 19 against Mississippi State. A similar tone can be taken on penalties as well. Arizona has committed 25 penalties for 232 yards. Oregon on the other hand, has committed 41 penalties for 360 yards, including 14 for 135 yards just this last weekend against Stanford.
With two big time offense squaring off in the desert, something's gotta give. It comes down to a few things.
For Arizona, can their wide receivers outrun the Oregon secondary? The secondary has improved quite a bit in the past couple of weeks, the group is still looking for its big prove it game.
Oregon's defensive line has also continued to improve becoming a more consistent threat to put pressure on the opposing quarterback and slow down the run.
Oregon will hope its offense can get into a rhythm and throw Arizona off their game to take the crowd out of it.
The second key will be who makes the least mistakes.
Lanning said that would be a major focus this week leading up to the game. If Oregon makes mistakes, the fact they're on the road could well be the deciding factor in a close game.
Oregon and Arizona kick off at 6 pm PT in Tucson. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.
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