College Football Betting – Can (7) Zona Upset (2) Oregon for Pac-12 Title?
John BensonNo comments
The only question in this year’s Pac-12 Championship game is whether the No. 7 Arizona Wildcats (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12) can upset the No. 2 Oregon Ducks (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) for the second time this season, and the third time in two years.
Invariably, that answer is tied directly to Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Oregon offensive line. This season, the Heisman frontrunner has accounted for 48 TDs and has passed for four or more in nine games this season (most in the nation). Oh, did we mention the athletic signal caller is also Oregon’s second-leading rusher with 636 yards?
None of this is news to Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez. “I think Marcus has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country since he made his first start,” he said. Plaudits aside, Mariota could not lead the Ducks to a win in their first meeting with Arizona this season, dropping a 31-24 decision to the Wildcats in Eugene.
The reason? Arizona’s pass rush. The Oregon offensive line could not give Mariota any time in the pocket, and even Mariota’s quick feet couldn’t escape the oncoming Wildcats. The Ducks QB was sacked seven times in the loss.
In his career at Oregon, Mariota has only lost four games. Two have been against the Wildcats, who have accumulated six takeaways over the two games (three picks and three fumble recoveries). In this year’s game, Mariota was stripped by Scooby Wright to late in the game to seal Oregon’s fate.
“It was a good play by him,” Mariota said. “They ran some coverage that we weren’t really expecting, and I was just trying to make the play. My instincts always lead the ball to go low, and he kind of just ripped it away.”
Despite all of the pressure, Mariota is confident.
“We’re just going to play our game. Arizona did a great job setting and dictating tempo in the last meeting,” Mariota said. “If we go out and execute to the best of our abilities and execute the game plans that are put in front of us, we should hopefully be successful.”
Thanks to a little (ok, a lot) of help from Stanford last week (which thumped UCLA), the Wildcats will get another shot at Mariota on Friday in the Pac-12 Championship. While a win for the Ducks will secure them a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff, the same can’t be said for the Wildcats. With two losses on the year, Arizona will need to win on Friday and see at least two of the teams above them falter in order to make the top-four.
While taking Arizona and the points (+14.5) is enticing, a better play is the under (73.5).