5 Things to Watch: Oregon at Arizona

5 Things to Watch: Oregon at Arizona
Infographic courtesy University of Oregon

Here's five things to look for when the Ducks meet the Wildcats in the desert at 12:30 p.m. Saturday:

TEMPO UP: Oregon has been the standard bearer for fast-paced offense the past few years and has again been close to unstoppable this season. The Ducks are second nationally in total offense (580 yards per game), third in scoring (nearly 51 points) and have been the quick-strike kings, scoring in two minutes or less in 47 of their 66 scoring drives this season. Arizona has taken the speed approach since Rodriguez became the coach last season, playing at a pace few teams can match — except maybe Oregon.

THOMAS RETURNS: De'Anthony Thomas had plenty of expectations for his junior season after a superb sophomore year. It didn't work out quite the way the Oregon running back had hoped, thanks to an ankle injury that kept him out of nearly four full games. Thomas returned with a flourish last week, returning a kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown and catching a touchdown pass in Oregon's 44-21 victory over Utah last Saturday. Thomas says he's healthy now and should give the Ducks a huge boost for the stretch run.

CATCHING CAREY: Oregon is the last team in the last two seasons to hold Arizona under 100 yards rushing. The Ducks will have their hands full this time trying to stop Ka'Deem Carey. An All-American last season, he's been just as good this year, ranking seventh nationally with 1,353 yards despite playing one less game than most of the leaders. With 117 yards, Carey will become Arizona's career rushing leader — as a junior.

MAGICAL MARIOTA: Marcus Mariota has been arguably the most efficient offensive player in college football this season, which is why he is one of the front-runners for the Heisman Trophy. The sophomore has thrown for 2,819 yards and 25 touchdowns, and hasn't thrown an interception since Nov. 17, 2012, against Stanford. He has thrown 343 passes without a pick, a Pac-12 record, and is the NCAA's career leader in interception percentage (0.97) among quarterbacks with at least 600 pass attempts.

RED-ZONE WOES: Arizona was solid in the red zone early in the season, scoring on 25 of their first 28 chances inside the opponent's 20-yard line. The Wildcats haven't been nearly as good over the past two games, scoring six of 10 times with just two touchdowns. Arizona failed on a fourth-and-1 and lost a goal-line fumble against UCLA and last week failed on a last-chance play inside Washington State's 20 when Samajie Grant caught B.J. Denker's pass out of bounds. The Wildcats can't afford to lose points like that against Oregon.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press