It’s week four of the college football season. Conference play has arrived as Oregon hosts Arizona and Oregon State heads to UCLA. Time for PREDICTIONS.
Arizona vs. Oregon
Tom: The top scoring offense in the Pac-12 against the number two offense in the conference. Oregon is averaging 54 points per game, the Wildcats, a mere 36 points per outing. But the Ducks right now are behind Arizona in yards per game, as the Wildcats lead the conference at more than 604. All those numbers mean this will be by far the most talented offense that the Duck defense has faced. But with wins over Toledo (24-17), Oklahoma St. (59-38), and South Carolina St. (56-0), it’s easy to see the ‘Cats haven’t faced an offense anywhere close to Oregon. This is the week we will see Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich open up the playbook a little, and come up with ways to free up SI cover-boy De’Anthony Thomas, and Kenjon Barner. Look for Marcus Mariota to have another big game spreading the ball around to all those weapons. As for Arizona, QB Matt Scott is racking up more than 331 yards per game through the air, a mark that tops all Pac-12 signal callers. And the Wildcats get a first down 36 times per game, best in the Pac-12. So, will it be a shootout? Who knows. But the Ducks are tough to beat at Autzen, so with that in mind I’m going with Oregon. Arizona: 34 Oregon: 44
Nick: The first real challenge for the Ducks this season should be a fun one to watch. Matt Scott has really flourished after sitting behind Nick Foles for the past couple of years. Scott and the Wildcats may move the ball but I have confidence in the Oregon defense to keep them out of the end zone more times than not. No worry of a Sports Illustrated cover jinx either for De’Anthony Thomas, he will score a hat trick of touchdowns on the first crisp night of fall. Arizona: 24 Oregon: 41
Dirk: The Ducks have yet to be really tested. Fresno State made it closer than many Oregon fans wanted, but the Bulldogs look to be a good team. Offensively, the Wildcats will give the Duck defense a good test. Quarterback Matt Scott is fourth in the nation in total offense, averaging 395-yards per game. He can run as well as he can throw. Plus, he is a senior. He’ll be tough to rattle and perhaps harder to catch. With that said, it may be a shoot out on Saturday night. That is what I expect. It could be a very long game, going late into the night. Oregon’s defense will have to be good on third down like it’s been so far this season. The Ducks rank third in the nation in third down percentage defense. Arizona: 42 Oregon: 52
Phil: After three preseason games, three cupcakes, Oregon will finally have a decent challenge in Arizona. Rich Rod has definitely got the ball rolling in the right direction down in Tucson. His spread offense will provide plenty of challenges for the Ducks defense, which has looked shaky at times. The biggest factor in this game however, is the Sports Illustrated curse. DAT on the cover of SI could spell trouble for the Ducks. But lets get serious; Oregon’s offense will run the Wildcats off the field. Arizona: 28 Oregon: 42
Oregon State vs. UCLA
Tom: The Beavers are a bit of a conundrum. They dominated the Wisconsin Badgers on both the offensive and defensive lines, holding Montee Ball without a TD for the first time in 22 games. But obviously, the Badgers had problems coming in, as Bret Bielema fired his offensive line coach following the loss to OSU. Still Oregon State’s defense looks improved, mostly by the emergence of D.J. Welch at linebacker, who posted seven tackles in the Beavers’ only game of the season. UCLA meanwhile, is putting up 311 yards rushing per game, and over 600 yards of total offense, and look like a completely different team than last year’s group. Redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley is the top passing freshman in the nation, and Johnathan Franklin is the leading rusher in FBS (formerly Division I) at 180.3 yards per game. If this game were in Corvallis, I would most certainly pick Oregon State, but it’s in Pasadena, where the Beavers are 7-23-3 all-time vs. the Bruins. Oregon State: 20 UCLA: 34
Nick: Having played just one game so far, it’s hard to predict what the Beavs might do Saturday afternoon. If the defense locks it down like they did against Wisconsin, then I like what could be a nice rebound season for the program. How good is Storm Woods? Can Markus Wheaton or Brandin Cooks be a go-to playmaker? Will Sean Mannion get his team into the end zone more than once? When looking at UCLA (like most of the Pac-12 teams this non-conference season), I am not sure what is real and what seems like it may be a mirage. I am going to step outside of the box and go with the Beavs on the road. Oregon State: 27 UCLA: 24
Dirk: I don’t think we know that much about the Beavers. They’ve only played one game. Granted OSU looked good in defeating a Wisconsin team that is clearly not what it was in 2011. The Beaver defense will have its hands full with the UCLA offense. The Bruins spread offense is flying high under quarterback Brett Hundley. UCLA ranks second nationally with 622-yards of offense per game. The Bruins are nothing like the Badgers. I don’t think the Beavers have the offensive fire power to stay with UCLA. OSU will have to possess the ball and limit the Bruins’ touches. The Beavers will need turnovers as well. But I just don’t see OSU having enough. Oregon State: 20 UCLA: 38
Phil: This could be one of the best games in the country this weekend. The Beavers defense looked great against Wisconsin. They’re hoping for a repeat performance against UCLA. The Bruins come in with the nation’s leading rusher in Johnathan Franklin. I think the Beavers slow him down just enough for the Oregon State offense. I expect the Beavers to take a few shots down the field, and if they connect, it will open things up for Storm Woods and Malcolm Agnew up front. Oregon State: 27 UCLA: 21
After three weeks, there isn’t much separation amongst the sports guys. Tom is out in front after he and Nick were equally as close to the real score last week. But things will change soon, as conference play is here and games will be much closer.
1. Tom: 3-1 (4.5), 2. Nick: 3-1 (3.5), 3. Dirk: 3-1 (4), 4. Phil: 3-1 (3)
What do you think will go down this weekend? You can let us know in a variety of ways.
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