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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Matchups to watch for

    Arizona run defense vs. Oregon run offense

    Skinny: Arizona allows 105.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks fourth in the Pacific 10 Conference. The Wildcats gave up 102 yards on 16 carries to California running back Marshawn Lynch in a 24-20 victory on Saturday, though more than half of his yardage came on a single attempt. Oregon brings in the Pac-10’s top rushing attack (195.9 yards per game), spurred by sophomores Jonathan Stewart (840 yards, 5.7 yards per carry, seven touchdowns) and Jeremiah Johnson (479, 6.1, nine) and speedy quarterback Dennis Dixon (357, 4.5, two).

    Advantage: Oregon. Arizona’s difficulty in containing mobile quarterbacks like Dixon stacks the desk in the Ducks’ favor. Oregon has three run options who are almost equally capable of pulling off a big gain. Moreover, Arizona has succeeded most against the run when dealing exclusively with between-the-tackles rushers like Stewart. If he struggles, shiftier ball-carriers like Johnson and Dixon should make up for him. Other stats to keep in mind: Oregon is 5-0 at home this season, having rushed for at least 200 yards in four of those games and 193 in the other. Arizona allowed 231 rushing yards at then-No. 8 Louisiana State in a 45-3 loss Sept. 9.

    Arizona running back Chris Henry vs. Oregon run defense

    Skinny: Henry has carried 60 times in the last two games and scored four touchdowns. The Ducks rank next to last in the Pac-10 in run defense, allowing 147.8 yards per game on 4.3 yards per carry. Their 15 rushing touchdowns permitted are tied for the second-most in the conference.

    Advantage: Arizona. The Wildcats are poised to control the clock in this game, a key advantage in victories over Washington State and Cal. The big issue is whether Arizona will go to Henry early and often enough. The Wildcats fed him a school-record 35 carries against the Cougars, and they led most of the game. Against the Golden Bears, Henry rushed only six times for seven yards before halftime, as Cal built a 17-3 lead. He carried 18 times after the break, and the Wildcats outscored Cal 21-3.

    Arizona pass offense vs. Oregon pass defense

    Skinny: Quarterback Willie Tuitama is coming off his two best games of an injury-marred season. He threw only one interception the last two weeks after tossing five in the previous six games. The Ducks lead the Pac-10 in pass defense, allowing only 145.5 passing yards per game and a 53.1 completion percentage. Freshman cornerback Jairus Byrd is tied for second in the Pac-10 with four interceptions.

    Advantage: Push. Oregon likes to play a lot of man coverage, meaning the team’s inexperienced, however talented, cornerbacks will be faced with pinning down Wildcat receivers Syndric Steptoe and Mike Thomas. Both wideouts are very athletic and capable of playing better than their sub-6-foot statures might suggest, as Steptoe caught six balls for 68 yards against Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist Daymeion Hughes and Cal last weekend.

    Prediction: Oregon 27, Arizona 24

    – Compiled by Tom Knauer

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