Oregon St. (2-2, 0-1) at Arizona (3-2, 0-2) / Arizona Stadium, Tucson / 1 PM AST (1 PM PDT) / Fox Sports 1 / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon State returns to action after a bye week, with the first of back to back 1 PM day games on the road at Arizona. Today, the Beavers and Wildcats will sweat it out, with both teams in search of their first Pac-12 conference win, and looking to break losing streaks.
The game will be quite the sweat-fest, despite the presence of the "Cool-turf" system that circulates cold water under the field-turf surface in Arizona Stadium. Ordinarily, the desert schools don't play day games until after Halloween, often well after, as ambient temperatures will be in the 90s and climbing during the game, and temperatures on the field, even with cooling measures, will likely top 140 degrees, making the game potentially dangerous.
Some Fox Sports 1 programming manager who won't be in Tucson (and would be in an air-conditioned suite if we were there) made the scheduling decision. At least he saved the teams from being relegated to the Pac-12 Network. But for once, Beaver fans in attendance would rather have been a part of Pac-12 After Dark craziness.
Despite the heat, it should be a full house in Arizona Stadium, as its Family Day, quite the contrast from the 'Zona Zoo, also known as the tortilla tossing capital of the southwest.
Defending their Pac-12 South title is probably already out of reach for Arizona after back to back lopsided losses, 56-30 to UCLA and 55-17 last Saturday at Stanford. But if there is any hope of getting back to Santa Clara, the 'Cats have to win today. An upper tier bowl berth is also on the line.
Oregon State also suffered a lop-sided 42-24 loss to Stanford in their last outing, and while winning the Pac-12 North this year was never a realistic goal, getting to a bowl game was and is. With 4 more road games to go, a stretch of 3 straight game against ranked opponents, 2 of which will be away from Reser, and the Civil War also being on the road, today may not already be a must win game, but the chances for postseason play improves dramatically if the Beavers can upset the beat up 'Cats.
Arizona will again be without All-American linebacker Scooby Wright, who sprained his foot early in the UCLA game, his first game back after suffering a knee injury in the first quarter of the 'Cats season opening win over UT-San Antonio.
More pressing is whether quarterback Anu Solomon, who will start after being knocked out of the UCLA game, and missing last week's trip to The Farm due to concussion-like symptoms, will be 100%, and given free run.
Solomon clearly runs the Arizona offense at a different level, but if he takes another hard, it could sideline the super sophomore again. If Solomon can't play at any point, it will be senior Jerrard Randall, who was 15 of 28, for 178 yards and a touchdown against Stanford.
Oregon State is substantially healthy after 15 days to recover from Stanford, with DE Titus Failauga shown as the starter on the reinstated (no depth chart was released for the Stanford game, but that absence was corrected for this week) depth chart, but listed as probable, and reserve DT Ali'i Robins shown as questionable. Reserve O-lineman Will Hopkins is out.
However, over the bye week, it was announced that would-be starting TE Caleb Smith and freshman RB Deltron Sands are out for the season, and will red-shirt. Additionally, LB David Henry, who was on multiple special teams units and in the LB rotation, but has been out since suffering a concussion against Michigan, is out for his career. Henry, a sophomore, who has suffered several concussion-symptom incidents, has taken a medical retirement, but remains on the team, as a weight & conditioning assistant.
History bodes well for the Beavers against the 'Cats. Though Arizona leads the overall series 21-14-1, Oregon State has won the last 3 meetings, 6 of the last 7. and 12 of the last 14 contests. Further, the Beavers have won 6 in a row in Tucson. The 'Cats haven't beat the Beavers on their home field since 1997, with both wins in the last 14 games coning in Corvallis, in 2005 & 2009.
It quite a reversal from the early portion of the rivalry. Oregon State won the initial meeting in Portland in 1966, but Arizona then ran off a dozen wins in a row. The Beavers wrapped a win in 1990 and a tie in 1992, both in Corvallis, around another loss in Tucson, but the 'Cats then ran off a half dozen more wins.
Due to the Pac-12 cross division schedule rotation, Oregon State hasn't played Arizona since 2012, one of the most memorable contests in the series, which has seen single score margins in 4 of the last 5 meetings, and 6 of the last 8, but overall has not been very competitive regardless of who won, with only 2 games that were 7 points or closer previously in the series.
Oregon State, ranked 18th at the time, jumped to a 17-0 early lead, but Arizona roared back with 3 straight touchdowns to go up 21-17, and triggered one of the best performances of Oregon State and Pac-12 record setting quarterback Sean Mannion's career.
Mannion brought the Beavers from behind 3 times, the last 2 with touchdown passes, out-dueling the 'Cats' Matt Scott in the process, finally securing the 38-35 win with a 9 yard scoring strike to Connor Hamlett with just over a minute left to play.
Storm Woods, who will start at RB today, also had a big day for the Beavers, with 161 yards and a touchdown rushing, plus 4 catches for another 42 yards.
Building The Dam will be back after the game, with complete coverage and analysis.