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Arizona Wildcats look ready for their 'good shot' at Oregon Ducks

Now the real season begins for the Oregon Ducks, who have coasted through three nonleague games, albeit with lots of mistakes.

Upstart Arizona (3-0) visits Autzen Stadium, facing the Ducks (3-0) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The two teams open Pac-12 play having come from opposite directions at the start of the season. The Ducks are three-time defending Pac-10/Pac-12 champs; the Wildcats are rebuilding under first-year coach Rich Rodriguez.

But the Wildcats, led by quarterback Matt Scott operating the spread offense, have been very impressive, particularly in knocking off Oklahoma State, 59-38, two weekends ago. Arizona routed South Carolina State 56-0 last weekend, while Oregon dispatched its own Division I-AA opponent, Tennessee Tech.

A fifth-year senior, Scott averages 331.7 yards passing per game, completing 71.5 percent to a bevy of receivers, with seven TDs and only one interception. He also has rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns, to complement leading rusher Ka'Deem Carey (344 yards, five scores).

"A very athletic quarterback," UO coach Chip Kelly says. "Matt is perfect for what Rich is doing offensively. He can really scare you. He throws it well, but has the speed and athleticism to hurt you in the run game. It makes it tough to defend them."

The 6-3, 195-pound Scott, who played behind Nick Foles before redshirting last season, looks very comfortable in the UA spread offense.

"They got a good defense," Scott says, of the Ducks, "but I believe in this offense, the guys we have. We got a good front, we have playmakers. I know we can put up some points against these guys. We can score pretty quickly, which they do as well."

The Wildcats are riding high under the leadership of Rodriguez, one of the spread offense gurus who had much success at Clemson (as offensive coordinator) and West Virginia before an ill-fated three years at Michigan. He was fortunate to have the skills and prowess of Scott to lead his offense.

"I'm not surprised at all by Matt Scott," he says. "We knew in the spring we had somebody pretty special. ... It's nice to walk into a guy like that. Matt can make all the throws. He runs well. Very competitive guy. That gives us a shot."

Still, the Wildcats know the challenge ahead of them. Beating Oklahoma State at home was one thing, taking on the Ducks at raucous Autzen will be another.

"It doesn't matter how much confidence we have," Scott says, "we have to go in there and execute. I think we have a good shot. We're going up there for the win."

The Wildcats are trying to build depth, and Rodriguez wants his team to run the ball better.

"We've got to do a better job of opening up some holes," he says. "We have to be able to keep possession of the ball; this game is critical for us in getting first downs and keeping possession."

As far as defense, the Wildcats shut out South Carolina State, but Rodriguez has mentioned that the unit still is a work-in-progress.

"A key will be getting there (to ballcarriers)," he says, of defending the Ducks, "and getting them on the ground."

Rodriguez says the Ducks' offense, De'Anthony Thomas, quarterback Marcus Mariota and an underrated defense have him concerned about Saturday's game.

On Mariota, he says: "He's like the perfect quarterback for their system. He's fast, and has a live arm, too. I'm really impressed by him. The backup (Bryan Bennett) can play for anybody."

The Wildcats are nationally ranked, a status that could be bolstered with an upset at Oregon.

"I thought our guys were hungry to get more relevant," Rodriguez says.

"There's a lot that has to go right for us to win this game," he says. "We have to play really well early and hope they play poorly at times to give us a chance. It's a big test.

"I think Oregon's a better team (than Oklahoma State). And, it'll be a little bit tougher environment on the road. If you're really, really prepared and know that you've worked hard, that's the best way to build confidence. ... A key for us is keeping our poise, like we did two weeks ago. We know we're going to lose some plays."

Rodriguez expects a rowdy environment — and an eye-catching Nike uniform combination from the Ducks.

"Uncle Phil will have something ready for them," he says, of Nike founder Phil Knight.