THE MATCHUP: Oregon takes to the road to open their Pac-12 schedule, heading to Tucson to take on the Arizona Wildcats. The Ducks have taken the frustration of losing to LSU and used it to put 125 points on Nevada and Missouri State. Arizona continues a brutal first half schedule with its third consecutive ranked opponent, and will attempt to win its first game against an FBS team this season, after losses to Oklahoma State and Stanford. Both offenses will push the tempo, with Arizona favoring the pass and Oregon preferring the run.
Unfortunately, Mark Stoops has moved on to coordinate jumps with Jimbo Fisher at Florida State, leaving Wildcats head coach Mike Stoops to hop around by himself.
THE INJURIES: For the Ducks, a multitude of injury questions loom large. Offensive playmakers Josh Huff and Kenjon Barner have sat out the last two games, and both linebacker Michael Clay and safety John Boyett sat out the game against Missouri State. Arizona has caught the 2007 Oregon disease, losing three projected defensive starters to ACL tears; Safety Adam Hall and linebacker Jake Fischer are expected to be out until mid-October, and cornerback Jonathan McKnight is out for the season. On the bright side of the injury story for Arizona, dynamic wide receiver Juron Criner made his return from his appendectomy against Stanford, catching six passes for 48 yards and a touchdown.
KEY PLAYERS FOR ARIZONA
QB NICK FOLES - Foles completed his first seventeen passes against Stanford, keeping the Wildcats close in the first half; he completed seven of his last sixteen, and Arizona went scoreless for the last 35 minutes of the game. As his play goes, so does the Wildcats offense.
RB KEOLA ANTOLIN - Antolin assumes Stanley Havilli's role of "Pacific Islander Running Back who Seems Like he has Been in School for Twelve Years". He is averaging 3.3 yards per carry this season. That has to improve if the Wildcats are to have any offensive success this season.
WR JURON CRINER - The reigning Pac-10 receiving leader is back, sans appendix. He leads a bevy of Wildcat receivers who will all get chances to make plays.
KEY PLAYERS FOR OREGON
FS AVERY PATTERSON - Making his first career start in place of the injured John Boyett, Patterson led the Ducks against Missouri State with eight tackles. If Boyett's injury lingers through this week, Patterson will have a much taller order trying to corral the Arizona passing attack.
CB CLIFF HARRIS - Kash is slowly working his way back into Coach Kelly's good graces, and the Ducks can definitely use his playmaking ability on Saturday. Juron Criner made him look foolish last season, burning him for an 85 yard touchdown pass; surely Cliff is itching to exact some revenge?
WR RAHSAAN VAUGHN - The JC transfer has shown himself to be a viable threat in Oregon's passing game, hauling in five passes, including a touchdown, in the last two games. Lavasier Tuinei will get the most attention from opposing defenses, and David Paulson is nowhere to be found, so someone else has to step up. If not Vaughn, then possibly freshman Colt Lyerla, who has apparently stolen Paulson's "I only make big catches" mojo; all three of Lyerla's career receptions have been for touchdowns.