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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Cats need consistency to upset Ducks on road

Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats football team couldn’t have had its bye week at a better time. Not only did it come right after the craziest game of the season so far, it is also before the most important game of the season. Arizona plays No. 2 Oregon in Eugene on Thursday in an ESPN showdown with considerable Pac-12 Conference implications.

A win for Oregon puts the Ducks in prime position to take over the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 rankings and readies the team for a huge matchup with UCLA next week. A loss drops Oregon in the rankings and puts a noticeable damper on its playoff hopes.

A win for Arizona likely puts the Wildcats in the AP Top 25 rankings and could give the team the boost needed to go on a roll. An Arizona loss makes next week’s USC showdown that much more important.

However, winning at Oregon is easier said than done.

Arizona hasn’t won at Oregon since 2006, with the most recent road matchup coming in 2012 with an embarrassing 49-0 loss. The players that remain from that 2012 team include, but are not limited to, Austin Hill, Reggie Gilbert, Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Jared Tevis and Casey Skowron.

Each were just sophomores at the time and their only experience in Autzen Stadium is that 49-0 loss. Not exactly the greatest of experiences to have as your only game played in one of the loudest stadiums in the nation.

Maybe the only comparable recent road game is the 2006 matchup against LSU in Baton Rouge. The Tigers thoroughly destroyed Arizona 45-3 on national television.

Getting better results against Oregon this season hinges on improved consistency from the Arizona offensive skill players. Major contributors like Anu Solomon, Nick Wilson and Cayleb Jones have never played in a game of this magnitude previously and have to show resolve in their first Pac-12 road game.

Solomon has been up-and-down at times with his accuracy this year, especially against California last week. His deep ball needs to be more consistent against an athletic Oregon secondary that has future NFL first-rounder Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

His ability to control the deep ball and limit turnovers will be a huge key to a second-straight victory over the Ducks. This is magnified even more considering Oregon’s defense is allowing only 21.2 points per game this season.

Everyone knows the Oregon offense is going to score in bunches, and the defense will give up yards, but the Ducks are deadly when their defense limits scoring opportunities.

As the days count down before Thursday’s showdown, there’s no doubt Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez will ready his players for the biggest game of the season.

Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter @HouseofPayne555

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