Pac-12 Championship preview: Oregon-Arizona
Oregon and Arizona will battle for the Pac-12 title on Friday night in the Bay Area, as the Ducks look to avenge their only loss of the season and cement their place in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Mark Helfrich's squad solved its Stanford problem this season. But can the Ducks solve their Rich Rod problem? Let's take a look at what could be in store for Friday night's contest at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
Oregon (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) vs. Arizona (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12)
9 p.m. ET on FOX
Oregon has a 24-16 series edge.
— This is very likely Marcus Mariota's last Pac-12 battle, as he is projected to be one of the top NFL Draft picks in 2015. The Pac-12 offensive player of the year has had another magnificent season, as the leader in the Heisman Trophy race has thrown for 3,470 yards and 36 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He also has 633 yards and 11 scores on the ground. But he will have to deal with league defensive player of the year Scooby Wright. And the dual-threat signal-caller has had his problems against the Wildcats in the last two meetings, although he was not 100 percent in 2013 and was running the offense behind a battered O-Line earlier this season. He had two interceptions in last year's game and recorded his lowest offensive output of the year (277 total yards) this fall. Wright, who has six forced fumbles and 14 sacks, has been very good in the last two meetings against the Ducks with two tackles for loss, a forced fumble, an interception and a sack in his contests against Mariota and an offense that is averaging 45.9 points per game this year. He also happened to be the one that sacked Mariota and stripped him of the ball late in the game to help clinch Arizona's victory over Oregon earlier in the year.
— Young Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon played like a veteran in a tough environment in the first meeting between these teams. On the season, the signal-caller is averaging almost 310 yards of total offense per game and 28 total touchdowns. He has mastered Rich Rod's offensive system in his first year as the starter. But Solomon has been beat up and dealing with some injuries as the season draws to a close, and his play had leveled off a bit. Expect the Ducks to try to rattle him with an array of blitzes and coverages. Will he be ready for another big moment?
Notes: Oregon has won 11 league titles, while Arizona won its lone championship in 1993 ... Mariota was sacked five times and the Ducks were held to a season-low 144 rushing yards in their loss to Arizona earlier in the year, and the Wildcats' physicality will be a challenge even with improved O-Line play ... This will be the second college football game played at the home of the San Francisco 49ers, with Oregon beating Cal 59-41 on this field back on October 24
Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.