The Oregon Ducks continued their march towards the season-ending College Football Playoff with a comprehensive win over rivals Oregon State. Marcus Mariota showed the world why he is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this season with another dominant display, recording six total touchdowns in the 28-point rout.
He will have his work cut out for him, though, this coming Saturday, when he squares off with the Arizona Wildcats in the Pac-12 championship game. The Wildcats have proven to be Oregon’s Kryptonite the last couple of seasons, winning their last two meetings against the Ducks quite convincingly.
Arizona Wildcats vs. Oregon Ducks Betting Preview
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara
When: Friday, December 5, 2014, 9:00 PM ET
Line: Arizona Wildcats (+14) vs. Oregon Ducks (-14) – view all NCAA Football lines
Betting on the Arizona Wildcats
Entering Saturday’s action, the odds were against Arizona reaching the Pac-12 championship game this coming weekend. First, they needed to beat Arizona State and hope that UCLA somehow lose their game against Stanford. Miraculously, both things occurred on Saturday as the Stanford Cardinal upset the UCLA Bruins 31-10 before the Wildcats sealed their entry into the title game with a gritty 42-35 victory over their rivals Arizona State.
[sc:NCAA240banner ]Up next for Arizona is a title showdown with Oregon who has stormed to the top of the Pac-12 standings with an impressive 11-1 slate. The Wildcats will hold no fear for that record, though, considering that they are the ones responsible for that lone blemish in Oregon’s record.
Just like their entry to the Pac-12 championship, the Wildcats also bucked the odds in their first meeting with the Ducks this season. They entered the game as 24-point underdogs but produced a stunning 31-24 upset at Autzen Stadium no less.
They managed to score the shock result by pounding the Oregon defensive line with their running game. The Wildcats outgained the Ducks on the ground 208-144 thanks in large part to their dynamic duo of Terris Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson. Jones-Grigsby led the Wildcats with 115 yards on 27 carries in that game while Wilson provided the big plays racking up 92 yards on just 13 carries for a 7.1 yards-per-carry average.
They definitely took advantage of a Ducks’ defensive line that is only 59th in the FBS in defending the rush, allowing 158.9 YPG on the ground this season. Bad news for Oregon is that Wilson has improved even further since their last meeting, posting 150-rushing yard games three times including a monster 218-yard performance against Utah.
It would be foolish, though, to say that Arizona’s last win over Oregon was a total fluke. In fact, the Wildcats utilized that same strategy last year and came away with the same result, crushing the Ducks 42-16. In that game, it was Ka’Deem Carey who punished the Ducks as he ran for 206 yards to lead Arizona to the easy win.
What makes this strategy so effective for Arizona is that it stifles the rhythm of Marcus Mariota. In their last two meetings with the Ducks, the Wildcats have dominated the possession, averaging 33 minutes in those two ballgames. Oregon relies mainly on its offense, particularly Mariota’s brilliance so stopping him in any form will be vital for Arizona if they are to win the Pac-12 title.
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Betting on the Oregon Ducks
Oregon will head into their Pac-12 championship game with Arizona in the best possible shape after dismantling Oregon State 47-19 in the 118th staging of the Civil War game. To no one’s surprise, it was Marcus Mariota who was the hero for the Ducks as he completed 19 of 25 passes for 367 yards and had six total touchdowns (4 passing, 2 rushing) in the lopsided win against the Beavers.
That sets it up quite nicely for their title decider with the Wildcats, the only team they have lost to this season. In their 31-24 defeat to Arizona last October 2, Mariota had a difficult time dissecting the Wildcats defense as he completed just 20 of 32 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. Not helping matters was the Ducks’ feeble offensive line which allowed Mariota to be sacked five times.
The Ducks have recovered well from that setback, though, racking up seven consecutive wins to put themselves right on the verge of a spot in the College Football Playoff. During the current streak, the Ducks have displayed their offensive might, averaging 47.5 points per game, and have outscored their opponents by an average of 24.2 points.
Key to their revival is Mariota who has surely locked up the Heisman Trophy race by now. Through 12 games this season, Mariota has already thrown 36 touchdowns and just two interceptions. What makes this Oregon team so tough to beat, though, is that they have great playmakers on both their ground and aerial attacks.
That was in full display against Oregon State where running back Royce Freeman and wide receiver Byron Marshall shared game honors with Mariota. Freeman rushed for 135 yards on 22 carries against the Beavers and will be licking his chops at the prospect of facing an Arizona defensive line that is just 62nd in rushing defense this season, allowing 159.5 YPG.
Marshall, on the other hand, toyed with the Beavers’ secondary, recording 131 receiving yards on six catches. He will be a main target for Mariota, especially with the Wildcats’ secondary allowing 275.2 yards per game this season, 112th in the FBS.
Oregon (-14) wins 45-28 to book their place in the College Football Playoff.[sc:NCAA490banner ]
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