One of the most exciting players in college football over the past six weeks, Arizona sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate has made the Wildcats must-see TV while becoming a surprising factor in the Heisman Trophy race. All eyes will be on Tate again Saturday as the Wildcats visit Oregon, which is hoping to have starting quarterback Justin Herbert back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 30.
Tate ran his streak of 100-yard rushing games to six and finished with 206 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries in last Saturday’s 49-28 win over Oregon State as the Wildcats won for the fifth time in their last six games. The Los Angeles native ranks seventh in the nation in rushing (1,293 yards) and leads the Pac-12 in passing efficiency (155.5) despite not starting until the fifth game of the season. “No one has stopped him yet this year,” Oregon coach Willie Taggart told reporters. “He’s a heck of a talent. Big-time football player and is really good with the ball in his hand. Defensively we have to be disciplined and make sure we do a good job of wrapping up and have guys run to the ball.” Oregon, which can become bowl eligible with a win over Arizona or Oregon State, could receive a major boost if Herbert can return from a broken left collarbone that forced him to miss the last five games.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: Even
ABOUT ARIZONA (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12): The Wildcats ran for a school-record 534 yards and held onto their spot in second place in the Pac-12 South with a dominant win over Oregon State. Senior Zach Green has quietly rushed for nine touchdowns for Arizona, which was picked to finish last in the division after going 3-9 last season and now has the leading candidates for Pac-12 Coach of the Year (Rich Rodriguez) and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year (Tate). Freshman linebacker Tony Fields II has a team-high 73 tackles to lead the defense, which ranks third nationally with 16 interceptions.
ABOUT OREGON (5-5, 2-5): The Ducks averaged 49.6 points in their first five games but have been stuck in neutral without Herbert, averaging 15 points and going 1-4 with freshman Braxton Burmeister under center. Herbert was clearly missed in a 38-3 loss to Washington before the bye week, when the Ducks were held to 31 yards passing. Even if Herbert is cleared to play, the Ducks figure to rely heavily on running back Royce Freeman, who surpassed the 100-yard mark for the 29th time in his career with 122 yards on 24 carries against the Huskies.
1. Oregon leads the all-time series 25-16, including 13-5 in Eugene.
2. The Ducks are second in the Pac-12 in rushing defense at 129 yards per game.
3. Arizona freshman S Scottie Young Jr. is expected to be available after missing last week’s game due to a knee injury.
PREDICTION: Arizona 41, Oregon 34