After being outclassed in virtually every phase of the game by both Oklahoma State and Stanford, and losing by a combined margin of 74-24, UA finds itself at 1-2 and with its season hanging in the balance in the next two weeks.
But before the Wildcats hit the road to USC, they'll first have to host number ten Oregon in a 7:15pm MST kickoff from Arizona Stadium. In six career appearances, Mike Stoops is 2-4 against the Ducks, and will be looking to make it 3-4 at risk of letting this season begin to spiral out of control.
Head coach Chip Kelly is now in his third season as head coach at Oregon, and already owns a National Championship appearance, two Pac-10 titles, and a 17-1 career record against the now Pac-12.
The Ducks hit Tucson with the nation's sixth ranked offense behind quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James, Oregon's all-time leading rusher after a 204-yard day against Missouri State. UO Is the preseason favorites to represent the North in the Pac-12 Championship game, and before losing to LSU in week one was a trendy pick to again appear in the National Championship game.
Kelly has yet to lose to the Wildcats in his career and will be looking to get his team in the win column in conference in its first Pac-12 game of the season.
Players to watch:
#6- RB, De'Anthony Thomas: "The Black Mamba" as he's come to be known has certainly lived up to the hype three games through his college career. Regarded as one of the top freshmen in the country, he has averaged over seven yards per carry as well as over 15 yards per reception. With all eyes on James, Oregon will likely look to get the ball in Thomas' hands in space and let him make plays. If Arizona misses tackles and loses contain on Thomas, the Black Mamba will undoubtedly strike for a big play.
#42- TE, David Paulson: On an offense full of explosive playmakers, it's easy for Paulson to blend in and be left unaccounted for. That's exactly when he makes opponents pay, as the senior racked up over 17 yards a catch on his way to First Team All-Pac-10 honors. While his four receptions on the season indicate he's unlikely to be targeted too often, Paulson is as reliable as they come when he is.
#20- FS, John Boyett: Aside from Harris, Boyett is arguably the team's second best play maker and is crucial to what Oregon wants to accomplish on defense. He's allowed a great amount of freedom within UO's system and will likely be in on just about every play. If Foles focuses too much on avoiding Harris, that may leave the door open for a big play from Boyett.
#18- CB, Anthony Gildon: With the way Harris is capable of shutting down opposing receivers, look for Gildon to get tested early in this game. So far he's proved up to the task, both in run and pass defense, but Saturday's contest will be his first true challenging matchup of the season. If he can keep Foles from completing pass after pass on his side of the field, it will force him to look Harris' way and give the Oregon defense the best chance to win.
#90- DT, Ricky Heimuli: A highly touted recruit in high school, Heimuli has been tossed into the fire as a true sophomore and asked to bring some stability to the middle of the defense. With the struggles of the Arizona offensive line, Heimuli could be poised to put together the technique and skill of the college game with the raw talent he arrived on campus with last summer, and may have a big impact on Arizona's plans offensively.
Keys to the game:
1. Contain: With the speed of James, Thomas, and Kenjon Barner out of the backfield, the defensive ends for Arizona cannot lose the edge. While they haven't made much of an impact in the pass rush through three games this season, UA's defensive ends can go a long ways in redeeming themselves by forcing the Oregon running backs inside.
2. No missed opportunities: Whether it be a missed field goal, a dropped pass, or a turnover in the red zone, Arizona can't afford to make too many mistakes on Saturday. Such mistakes have a way of carrying over to the other facets of the game and against a team like Oregon, anything less than 100 percent focus and determination will result in a sizeable defeat.
3. Big play on defense: With all of the power of the Oregon offense, it would go a long ways for the Arizona defense to create a turnover or stall a drive with a sack or big stop on third down. The defense's confidence surely can't be at the level it needs to be given its performance the past two weeks, and a big play or two might help swing that confidence level upward.
4. Run game: Arizona has yet to establish a ground game this season, and it has paid for it dearly. Oregon's front seven is a little bit suspect, and with its strength in the secondary, UA will have to run the ball effectively in order to open up the field for the passing game.
5. Pride: In a game in which Arizona is not expected to have a chance of winning, this team needs to come out and show its pride after losing two games in lopsided fashion. We'll have a chance to see just what this team is made of on Saturday night, as it looks to go out Saturday with 100 percent effort and focus and let the dust settle after the game is over.