Arkansas St Red Wolves at #5 Oregon Ducks
Saturday, September 1, 2012, 10:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Autzen Stadium – Eugene, Oregon
Opening Line: Oregon -33
Current Line: Oregon -37
Opening Total: 63 1/2
Current Total: 68 1/2
Opening Money Line: Oregon -27000 / ASU +13000
Current Money Line: Oregon -33750 / ASU +16250
The last time Gus Malzahn and Chip Kelly were coaching against each other, Malzahn was the offensive coordinator for Auburn and Kelly was the head coach at Oregon. The two teams met in the 2011 BCS Championship. Malzahn’s Tigers won that match-up 22-19 on a field goal as time expired.
Two seasons later Malzahn is the first year head coach at Arkansas St, and Kelly is still the coach at Oregon. The two teams meet for the first time ever Saturday night in Eugene. This time I am pretty sure Malzahn won’t have an athlete the caliber of Cam Newton at his disposal.
Last season, Arkansas St, coached by Hugh Freeze, finished 10-3. The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt Conference title. Arkansas St was 8-0 in conference but 2-3 out of conference with double digit losses to Illinois, Virginia Tech, and Northern Illinois in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. The Red Wolves started the season 1-2, but then went on a 9 game winning streak before the bowl loss. Freeze left to take the Ole Miss job, before Malzahn was hired. Arkansas St was 10-3 ATS last year and the total was 4-9 last season.
Oregon started off last season with a 40-27 loss to then #4 LSU. The Ducks went on a 9 game winning streak after that all by double digits. Oregon then lost at home 38-35 to USC. The Ducks would go on to beat UCLA in the inaugural Pac 12 Championship game. It was their third straight conference title for the Ducks. Oregon then beat Wisconson 45-38 in the Rose Bowl to finish 12-2. Oregon scored over 27 points in every game, and the Rose Bowl victory was the only one by less than 14 points. The Ducks were 7-5-2 ATS and the total was 10-4 last year.
Arkansas St is led by quarterback Ryan Aplin. He was the leading passer and rusher for the Red Wolves last season. He had over 4,100 combined passing and rushing yards with 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Receivers Josh Jarboe and Taylor Stockemer were both named to the pre-season All Sun Belt team.
Arkansas St held 6 opponents to under 20 points last season, and Virginia Tech only scored 26 against the Red Wolves. The defense should still be a strength led by linebacker Nathan Herrold and DB’s Chaz Scales and Andrew Tryon.
Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota was named the Oregon starting quarterback this week to replace Darron Thomas. He is the first freshman to start at quarterback in 21 years for Oregon. The running backs include Kenjon Barner who rushed for 939 yards last year, and the dynamic DeAnthony Thomas who led the Pac 12 in all-purpose yardage with just over 2,200 yards and had 18 total touchdowns. He could be a Heisman contender.
Most of the attention is usually focused on the Ducks’ explosive offense, but Oregon’s defense is underrated. The defense returns sever starters including safety John Boyett, linebacker Michael Clay, and DE Dion Jordan.
The Red Wolves are 10-3 ATS overall, 6-0 in September, and 5-2 on the road. The Ducks are 4-0 ATS against Sun Belt teams, 7-3 in September, 1-3-2 at home and on fieldturf.
Clearly, Oregon is the better team here, but Arkansas St did win a conference championship last year. I think Arkansas St can score enough and keep Oregon’s offense relatively contained to get inside the huge 37 point number. Don’t get me wrong, Oregon will still score over 40 points, but I think the final will be something like 49-24.
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