GameDay: Here's how Oregon and Arizona stackup
It seems fitting to have the Pac-12 Championship game consist of No. 2 Oregon and No. 11 Arizona.
Why? Well Oregon is statistically the best team in the conference and proved that this regular season. However, there is one blemish on a nearly undefeated season: The loss to the Arizona Wildcats.
This game is for bragging rights, in addition to the Pac-12 title. Oregon can avenge its loss from Oct. 2 by winning the Pac-12 title and likely getting an invitation to the first College Football Playoff while Arizona can confirm its dominance over the Ducks with another upset.
Here’s how the Pac-12 Championship game will stackup:
Oregon is an offensive juggernaut. There is no other way to put it after its performance this season.
The Ducks rank atop the Pac-12 in total scoring offense, total offense, rushing offense, pass efficiency and are third in passing offense. Oregon is led by Marcus Mariota who has made his mark in what is likely his final season at Oregon. Mariota averages 289.2 passing yards per game, 342.2 yards of total offense per game and leads the conference in passing efficiency with 36 touchdowns and just two interceptions this season.
But Mariota is not alone. He’s accompanied by a crew of playmakers including Royce Freeman, Devon Allen and Byron Marshall just to name a few.
Though Arizona doesn’t stand out offensively like Oregon on the stat sheet, it still has plenty of strengths on offense. Averaging 36.7 points per game this season — fourth best in the conference — the Wildcats are dangerous. In three of its four games against ranked opponents, Arizona averaged 38.3 points per game. It is solid in both aspects of the offense, with freshmen quarterback Anu Solomon and running back Nick Wilson. Wilson and company average 189.8 yards on the ground and Solomon averages 285.3 passing yards per game — fifth best in the conference.
With all the holes the Ducks have shown during the season, somehow they have kept their opponent out of the end zone. They have the second best scoring defense in the conference (allowing 23.2 points per game) even when their opponents average 429.6 yards against them. Third-down will be a big down defensively for Oregon. It is the worst team in the conference in allowing third-down conversions, at 43.6 percent.
For Arizona, watch out for Scooby Wright III. He’s an animal and was recently named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. As a team, Arizona allows 25.5 points per game and, like Oregon, is middle-of-the-conference in other defensive categories. However, the team does struggle against the run, allowing 159.5 yards per game, second worst in the conference. The key for Arizona will be getting to Mariota, as they did in October when they sacked Mariota five times and they’ve shown they can do that all season with 37 sacks as a team — fifth best in the conference.
Follow Andrew Bantly on Twitter @andrewbantly
Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.