Saturday, September 29, 2012
Beavers look to climb, 'Cats to reverse fall
By Ted Miller
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona wants to erase the bad taste in its mouth after suffering a 49-zip loss at Oregon last weekend. Oregon State is pretty happy with its recent meals.
The Beavers have only played two games, but they own wins over two ranked teams. They've used a dominant run defense -- No. 2 in the nation -- and a strong passing game to push to No. 18 in the national rankings.
Two questions for this one: 1. running game; 2. pass rush.
Arizona has run the ball well this year -- 207.5 yards per game -- but QB Matt Scott was a key part of that in the spread-option. He hurt his hip last week at Oregon and that helped mute the Wildcats running game. It will be interesting to see if coach Rich Rodriguez wants him carry the ball against that physical Beavers front.
Oregon State has not run well this year -- 100 yards per game -- but it's faced two good defenses (Wisconsin and UCLA) and it has run better than last year. The Wildcats have been OK against the run this year -- better than expected -- but the Beavers will be tough to stop if they are balanced.
That's because QB Sean Mannion likely will have time in the pocket to throw. The Wildcats have just three sacks, which ranks 110th in the nation. They are talented in the secondary, but Beavers receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks might be the fasted combination in the Pac-12. The Beavers have yielded just four sacks in two games, despite playing against two good D-fronts.
If Mannion has a lot of time to find Wheaton and Cooks, that could lead to several big plays.
The Beavers are looking to move up in the national rankings and the Pac-12 pecking order. If the Wildcats managed to win against a team it has struggled against of late -- the Beavers have won 11 of the past 13 in the series -- they figure to climb back into the national rankings. And the tangled Pac-12 South race.