Staff predictions for Arizona football against Oregon

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Amy Bailey | The Daily Wildcat Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate looks to throw the ball down the field during the first half of the Arizona-Oregon State game on Saturday November 2 in Tucson.

Arizona football hits the road this weekend and takes on the Oregon Ducks after coming off a bye week. The Wildcats are 4-5 on the season with only three games remaining in the regular season. Beat reporters Jack Cooper, Amit Syal and Austin Wales predict what will go down at Autzen Stadium.

Jack Cooper:

Arizona football will be traveling to one of the toughest places to play in the country this weekend. Autzen Stadium is always deafly loud, especially with the No. 6 Ducks playing very well this season. They dropped the first game of the year against Auburn in Texas in a game they should have won.

Arizona, on the other hand, has been the complete opposite. They started off hot at 4-1 but since then have dropped four in a row and sit one loss away from last place in the Pac-12 South. Even after firing their defensive coordinator a couple weeks ago, they struggled mightily against Oregon State. If their defensive struggles continue, this game could get out of hand quick.

One of the bright spots for this Arizona team this season has been the emergence of Grant Gunnell. The true freshman quarterback has thrown for nine touchdowns and only one interception. If Arizona has any chance just to stay in this game, they need Grant Gunnell to play every offensive possession and they also need to use J.J. Taylor a lot.

Taylor should be at 100 percent after a bye week. Even with the struggles of this offense, Taylor has been the most consistent part. Despite being slowed by an injury, Taylor still has 566 yards on 107 carries and has five touchdowns. He will need 30-plus carries and to break a couple of them for big gains for Arizona to have a chance.

Even though most people are writing this off as a blowout for the Ducks, it'll be interesting to watch the quarterback battle between Gunnell and Khalil Tate. Kevin Sumlin had been using Tate to start and then going to Gunnell, but he mentioned at his press conference that whoever has the better week of practice will start. 

I think that for Arizona to be any kind of competitive in the game, Arizona will need to use Gunnell all game, Taylor will need to have the game of his life and Arizona will have to win the turnover battle by at least three. Unfortunately for Arizona fans, I don't see any of that happening.

Prediction: Arizona 17 Oregon 65


Amit Syal:

Arizona football has pretty much given up all chances at a bowl game after dropping its past four games. Although the team is coming off a bye week, the Wildcats are traveling to Eugene, Ore. to take on the No. 6 Ducks. Arizona is facing a team that has won its past eight games and has not lost since Aug. 31.

The Wildcats will most definitely not win their third-to-last game against the Ducks unless a miracle goes down at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks are undefeated in conference play and will most likely end the season that way, too. Senior quarterback Justin Herbert has already thrown for a total of 2,329 yards and 24 touchdowns with only two interceptions all season.

Last game, against the USC Trojans, Herbert threw for a total of 225 yards on 21-for-26 completions. The Ducks went on to beat the Trojans by a final score of 56-24. Give Herbert a considerably worse defense than the Trojans and you’re asking for a real disaster to go down.

Personally, I think this game will mimic the previous four for Arizona and the Wildcats will get their fifth consecutive loss of the year and move to 4-6 on the season. This game against the Ducks will pretty much eradicate all hopes at playing a bowl game after the final regular season game against the ASU Sun Devils.

Prediction: Arizona 14 Oregon 42


Austin Wales:

Arizona (4-6) comes into this game after its third bye week of the season, against an Oregon team that is ranked No. 6 in the nation by the College Football Playoff Committee. Arizona’s quarterback situation still looks like it’s a two-quarterback system according to Kevin Sumlin’s press conference this week, even after Grant Gunnell went 19-for-29 for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Fans should expect to see a short leash for Khalil Tate, who has struggled as of late to find his groove.

Oregon brings to the table one of the best quarterbacks available for the NFL Draft this year in Justin Herbert. Herbert, who stands at 6-foot-6, is one of the best pocket passers in all of college football. Herbert has been playing very well as of late, as he has completed more than 60% of his passes the last three games. At his last game against USC, he went 21-for-26 for 226 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Having Herbert come off a bye week means he is fully rested and has had plenty of time to dissect Arizona’s porous defense this season the last two weeks.

This game is going to be played at Autzen Stadium, which has been in discussion for some time for being the loudest stadium in the nation because of how close fans are to the players. This should be a good help for an Oregon defense who has been playing very well as of late. The Ducks played specifically well against Washington, who was ahead for the entire game and were able to hold them to no points in the final quarter, as Herbert led them to the comeback win in Seattle, Wash.

If Arizona continues to play like they have the last four games and Herbert continues his recent success, this game is going to get out of hand quickly and Oregon is going to use this as a good resume builder for its case for the College Football Playoff. After this loss, Arizona’s bowl game hopes will drop considerably — they still have to play Utah and Arizona State.

Prediction: Arizona 14 Oregon 45


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