Buckle your seat belts – because this weekend of college football is going to be absolutely spectacular. We’ve got six games pitting ranked teams against each other, not including Thursday’s Pac-12 showdown between undefeated Arizona (4-0, 1-0) and No. 2 Oregon (4-0, 1-0).
“It’s going to be a really fun game,” Pac-12 Network analyst Yogi Roth said on The MoJo Show. “First and foremost, to get the Pac-12 on that stage is going to be good, I think, for the country and for you guys on the East Coast because Autzen is an amazing place to play. They go off, the crowd will be cranked up and you add in what happened a year ago – when Arizona just completely put it on Oregon in Tucson – it’s going to be fun to watch this matchup.”
Indeed, Arizona authored one of the most stunning upsets in college football last season. It wasn’t simply the fact that Arizona beat Oregon that was so shocking; it was the way the Wildcats went about it. They led 28-9 at halftime, 35-9 through three quarters and eventually won, 42-16.
But that was last year. This year, Oregon is a 24-point favorite.
“Schematically, I don’t know if it’s going to be as big of a blowout as some people may predict – because Oregon is having some issues right now,” Roth said. “They’ve lost their two tackles. They’re playing some lesser talented, lesser experienced offensive linemen right now. So that means they got to get the ball out quickly and they love attacking the edges on offense. It’s going to be fun to watch as they go up against (the) 3-3-5 defense (of) Arizona: three defensive linemen, three linebackers and a lot of guys in the secondary – so there’s a lot of guys who are going to be around the ball a lot.
“I’m excited to watch Marcus Mariota and their run game,” Roth continued. “I would expect them to go right at Arizona and just try to pound the ball in between the tackles and see if they can find success doing that.”
Oregon has struggled running the football this year – relatively speaking. Usually among the top rushing teams in America, Oregon enters Thursday night ranked outside the top 30, with 225.3 rushing yards per game.
Still, the Ducks rank fourth in the country with 48.5 points per game and are seen by many as the team to beat this year, especially given how shaky Florida State has looked. Mariota, to his credit, looks like the Heisman Trophy favorite at this point. The junior quarterback has thrown for 1,135 yards, rushed for 214 and had 16 touchdowns (13 pass, three rush) and no interceptions.
“I think Marcus Mariota is the most talented player in America – and when you get to know him, you fall in love with him,” Roth said. “He’s such an incredible role model, especially where football is now with the NFL and college football. He’s the perfect role model. He really is that type of young man.”
Kickoff is slated for 10:30 p.m. ET.