Oregon vs. Arizona Is as Good as it Gets
Friday marks the 1st of the college football conference championship games, and one of the most anticipated rematches in recent years. Following a major shakeup in the Pac-12 South standings last weekend, that saw both USC and UCLA lose, the Arizona Wildcats will make their 1st ever appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game. They will face an Oregon Ducks squad led by Heisman favorite Marcus Mariota that is just a 1 win away from reaching the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Ducks lone loss on the season? A 31-24 upset by the Wildcats in Eugene on October 2nd.
Heres why the rematch between Arizona and Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game is the most exciting game of championship weekend.
For some time now the Oregon Ducks have been known for scoring, and scoring big. Every year since 2010, Oregon has finished the season ranked in the top 4 in the nation in points per game, never averaging less than 45 points per game in that span. That number is especially interesting coming into their matchup with Arizona, because of the Wildcats success in shutting down the vaunted Oregon offense. Oregon currently averages 45.9 points per game for the 2014 season, but only scored a combined 40 points against Arizona in the teams’ 2 previous meetings. Arizona held Oregon to a season low 24 points in their game in October, the only time the Ducks have failed to score more than 35 points this season.
The impressive performance by the Arizona defense last year looked less like a fluke and more like a trend after the Wildcats were able to shut down Mariota and Co. a 2nd straight time. If the Arizona defense can pull off a 3rd straight mauling of the Oregon offense tomorrow, it will be one of the biggest performances in Arizona football history.
Scoring big points generally goes hand in hand with winning, and win Oregon has over the last half decade. Oregon has lost exactly 4 games in the past 3 seasons, but half of those have come at the hands of Arizona. Friday will mark the 41st meeting between the Ducks and Wildcats, and is the first time the teams have ever played twice in 1 season. It may also be the biggest matchup between the two schools ever.
Oregon is a lock to make the college football playoff with a win, but Arizona also has a chance to finish the season in the top 4. Following last weekend’s win over rival Arizona State, the Wildcats currently sit 7th in the CFP polls. Given the way the CFP selection committee has voted over the past few weeks (valuing wins above losses), it is not out of the question to think that Arizona could jump into the top 4 with a win and a little bit of help.
Looking at the other major matchups this weekend, a depleted Ohio State could easily lose against a surging Wisconsin team and Florida State has looked all but ready to lose almost every time they have stepped on the field this season. If 1 or both of those teams lose, Arizona has a solid chance of jumping into the top 4 if they are able to beat Oregon for the 2nd time. This makes the Pac-12 Championship Game a pseudo play-in game for the CFP, something no other championship game in the country can claim.
The hype surrounding the 2014 Pac-12 Title Game has helped ticket prices surge. This will be the first season the game is played at the beautiful new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. In 2012 the median ticket price to the Pac-12 Championship Game was $60, that number went up to $65 in 2013, but has already eclipsed the $124 mark for 2014 (as of 12/4/2014). With a matchup that is 2 years in the making, featuring the country’s best player, and chance to play in the first ever college football playoff on the line, the 2014 Pac-12 Championship Game is one of the top matchups of the past decade.