Arizona schools look to crash USC, Oregon rides
The Arizona Wildcats will kick off a big weekend for Arizona sports tomorrow in Eugene, Oregon. Arizona is coming off a bye, following an electric game against the California Golden Bears, in which they won on a last second Hail Mary. Oregon comes into the match up ranked #2 in the AP Top 25 poll. Last season, the Ducks traveled to Tucson to take on the Wildcats, who had been struck with inconsistent quarterback play. Marcus Mariota was still in contention for a Heisman Trophy and the Ducks were still hoping for someone to fall so they could sneak into the NCAA Championship game.
The outcome was shocking. Arizona ran over Oregon, on Kadeem Carey’s 48 carries, 206 yards, and 2 TD’s. The Arizona defense forced Marcus Mariota to throw his first interceptions since a loss to Stanford in 2012.
This time however, the two teams will face off in Autzen Stadium, home of the Ducks. If Arizona has any hopes to win, they will have to rely on freshman quarterback Anu Solomon. As an Oregon fan, you know their weak spot this year has been their secondary. They have a lot of holes throughout the back end. With Ifo Ekpre-Olomu being touted as one of the top corners in college this year, it will be up to him to continue to live up to that calling.
Arizona will also have to take advantage of the injuries on the Oregon offensive line. The Ducks currently field two freshman to book end their line. That showed in Oregon’s 38-31 nail biter against Washington State, allowing seven sacks on Marcus Mariota. Arizona comes into the game ranked 51st in the country with 2.5 sacks a game. Washington State was ranked 88th going into their game with Oregon.
This game is winnable for Arizona. They have to stay disciplined however. They field a young football team, but they managed to make a massive comeback against California, who, admittedly, field a horrible defense. Both teams should score a lot of points.
On the flip side, Arizona State dropped out of the top 25 this past week, following a loss to #8 UCLA. They now travel to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles to face off against #16 USC. Taylor Kelly remains doubtful to play, so Mike Bercovici will start under center for only the second time in his career. In last weekends loss to UCLA, Bercovici threw for 567 yards, 4 TD’s and 2 INT’s. USC is 2-0 in PAC 12 play, but this will be their first game against a PAC 12 south foe. USC has not allowed a touchdown pass yet this season. Bercovici threw the second highest number of passes (Anu Solomon threw the most), so ASU is hoping at least one of those can find the endzone.
Last season USC suffered a 62-41 loss to ASU, which ultimately lead to the firing of Lane Kiffin. They have rebounded nicely afterwards, and went 6-2 under interim head coach, Ed Orgeron.
Bercovici wants to make amends for last weeks lost, and will try to upset #16 USC, and put ASU back in the top 25.
It should be an exciting weekend for Arizona sports in general, as all three football teams go up against some of the best in their respective leagues. Can they make a statement to the nation that they are no longer a joke? That is to be seen, as Arizona will be the opening act for a big week in Arizona sports.
Phoenix Sports Kings Lead Contributor Alex Mann @mannrotb