Oregon State melted down in the Sonoran desert Saturday, and Arizona jumped all over the ill-prepared Beavers. The 'Cats raced to a 34-7 halftime lead, on their way to a 44-7 win that could easily have been a 50 point margin of victory had Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez not shown class and mercy in the last 1/3 of the game.
The win also put an emphatic end to Arizona's 2 game Pac-12 losing streak, and a 6 game home losing streak to Oregon State in the process. The 'Cats hadn't beaten the Beavers in Tucson since 1997, and had only 2 wins in the last 12 meetings. Today could have counted for at least a couple of wins back against that run.
Things got off to a bad start for the Beavers right off the bat, as Larry Scott got beat and had to tackle David Richards, above, who still caught the ball despite pass interference for a 50 yard completion to key the first drive of the game.
Nick Wilson would cap the drive with a 3 yard touchdown run not 2 minutes into the game for the 'Cats.
It was the worst prepared that Oregon State defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake's squad has been this season. Oregon State intentionally puts their corners on an island a lot, and counts on them to make plays, but that early, there was no apparent reason to for such a risky coverage, and it bit them. Then, on the touchdown, the linebackers set up too deep, in the end zone, and though they met Wilson, even forcing a review, the score stood, and the real problem was the second level of the defense was set up too deep, and Arizona alertly capitalized on the alignment error.
It was also just the beginning, as there would be more defensive miscues that contributed directly to Arizona scores.
The Beavers got a break on the ensuing kickoff, when Datrin Guyton's fumble was overturned by replay. But a 3rd down completion came on a route run to short, and Oregon State suffered their first but not last 3 and punt possession.
Wilson would be temporarily knocked out of the game on the next series, fumbling in the process, with Caleb Saulo ripping the ball out, and Rommel Mageo making the recovery. But review reversed the turnover, possibly turnabout for the non-turnover on the kickoff return.
Oregon State's defense had their best series of the day, making a good stop, but a bad throw by Seth Collins on a first down pass on the ensuing possession eventually led to third and medium instead of third and short.
That led to a throw away, and another 3 and punt.
Jered Baker, who took over for the temporarily sidelined Wilson, ripped off a 76 yard run right up the middle of the Oregon State defense, a play on which the Beaver linebackers were essentially caught standing around, and in the wrong lanes.
A trick play on 3rd down that involved a lateral back to 'Cat quarterback Anu Solomon didn't work, but Casey Skowron's field goal still opened a double digit lead.
Oregon State tried "Nall ball" on their next series, running Ryan Nall 3 straight plays, which resulted in their third 3 and punt in their first 3 possessions.
Wilson, above, returned to the action, and picked up a first down reception when the Oregon State secondary completely lost him. That miscue and a face mask penalty on Kendal Hill that produced a first and goal eventually produced another Skowron field goal, and a 13-0 Arizona lead at the end of the first quarter.
Notably, the Beavers didn't pick up their first first down until the last play of the first quarter. Also notably, the 'Cats already had about a 6 minute edge in time of possession.
That led to the only good drive of the day for Oregon State though, but it almost didn't happen. Seth Collins threw an interception that would have set Arizona up near mid-field, but the 'Cats committed 2 fouls on the play.
Staked to a second chance, Nall picked up another first down with some hard running, converted quarterback Brent VanderVeen made a juggling catch for his first reception as a tight end for another first down on Oregon State's only trip to the Arizona red zone.
Collins completed the drive with a 17 yard sprint keeper up the middle for the touchdown, above, that pulled the Beavers within 6 points, and briefly made it look like the Beavers would turn the momentum, and get back into the game.
A blown coverage on the very next play produced a 70 yard completion from Solomon to Johnny Jackson. Justin Strong made a touchdown saving tackle, but for only 1 play, as Wilson romped in from 7 yards out on the next play.
The completion came out of a trips right alignment. Devin Chappell came up on his slot receiver, correctly, who ran a quick hook route, but for some reason, Cyril Noland-Lewis also came up, and the mis-read allowed Jackson to sprint right by on a post route.
Things really fell apart at that point for Oregon State.
Collins led Villamin into triple coverage, and Arizona's Will Parks absolutely blew Villamin up. The play was initially called a "targeting" hit, incorrectly, because of its severity. But replay revealed that the hit was with the shoulder, and to the mid-section, and the flag was picked up.
Villamin wasn't able to pick himself up for a while though, and was done for the half.
Collins then threw an interception on a screen pass that leaping Anthony Fotu snagged, above, setting up a 1 yard touchdown run for Orlando Bradford, and it was suddenly 27-7 Arizona not 6 minutes into the second quarter.
That also took the rushing game largely out of Oregon State's game plan.
A leg whip by Arizona's Paul Magiore took a scrambling Collins out as well, and Oregon State had their 4th 3 and punt possession of the first half, and Collins on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation of his right ankle.
Arizona's offense was able to do whatever it wanted against the Oregon State defense that was overwhelmed beyond what the 121 degree on-field temperatures should have caused, and the 'Cats were able to convert on 8 of their first 11 3rd downs.
Solomon then found Cayleb Jones for an 18 yard completion into a too-soft middle secondary that set up a second Bradford score.
Oregon State, with Marcus McMaryion at quarterback, picked up a first down, but then couldn't extend the drive, and had to punt again.
The Beaver defense did stop the 'Cats, but a bad snap snafu slowed their attempt at an end of half scoring drive, and though they crossed mid-field, McMaryion's "Hail Mary" pass was not close, and Arizona took their 34-7 lead to the locker room.
"Our best offense is when they get a penalty," Oregon State coach Gary Andersen said in summing up the first half.
Both Collins and Villamin returned to action to start the second half, a huge relief to the beleaguered Beaver fans sweating out what was already destined to be Oregon State's worst game so far this season.
And Collins connected with Hunter Jarmon for a first down, followed by a good run by Storm Barrs-Woods, as the Beavers tried to get something going
But Collins missed Villamin on a completeable 3rd down, and Oregon State had to punt yet again.
Arizona then put the hammer down, and the game away.
Baker broke off another big run that put him over 100 yards for the day, and Samargie Grant got the 'Cats deep in Beaver territory with a good run after the catch on a wide receiver screen.
A bad snap over Solomon's head (bad snaps seem to be an epidemic in college football this season, seemingly for every team) produced a 2nd and 27, but Arizona still recovered for a first and goal, and a field goal to open their advantage to 30 points.
Barrs-Woods had his best run of the day on the next drive, for 20 yards, but in a reoccurring theme, that was the only 1st down of the drive, and Oregon State turned the ball over on downs at their own 44 yard line when, on a fake punt, Vander Veen missed an open Hill. It was a good call, but a bad throw.
Oregon State appeared to have staved off Arizona, but a face mask penalty on a 4th down play the Beavers had stopped produced a 'Cat first down at the 20, and 3 plays later, Bradford's 3rd touchdown, which made it 44-7 Arizona.
Still running Nall, Oregon State had yet another drive that produced 1 first down, but then another punt, and Arizona then went from their up-tempo to clock ball.
The 'Cats chewed up nearly 5 minutes, taking the game into the 4th quarter, before settling for a punt that pinned the Beavers at their own 7 yard line.
Experimenting with a variety of formations and player combinations didn't yield any real results, but did result in yet another Oregon State punt. Nick Porebski was the only Beaver to have a good day, and he uncorked a 57 yard punt that pinned Arizona at their own 17. When your punter is your best player on the day, you have had a very bad day.
Jerard Randall took over for Solomon, who called it a day having completed 17 of 30 passes, for 276 yards. Randall led the 'Cats on a clock eating drive that consumed over 7 minutes against a helpless Beaver defense.
Up by 37 point, Arizona eschewed a field goal, but though they turned the ball over on downs, it was at the Oregon State 13 yard line.
The Beavers, fittingly, went 3 and punt yet again, and the 'Cats then had third string quarterback Brandon Dawkins run out the clock.
Arizona improved to 4-2, and 1-2 in the Pac-12. The 'Cats head to Colorado next week.
Oregon State slipped to 2-3, and 0-2 in conference. The Beavers visit the Palouse next Saturday to visit Washington State.
The 'Cats finished having rolled up 644 yards on the Beavers, 368 rushing, and 276 trough the air. Baker finished with a game high 123 yards, and Bradford added 88. Wilson had 78 despite his brief first half side trip, and Randall even added 49. That led to an over 11 minute edge in time of possession.
The Beavers came up a yard short of the 250 yard mark for the game, not a half. Oregon State did run for 151 yards, with Woods accounting for 60 of them, and Collins close behind, with 58. Nall only had 30, on 8 carries.
Woods did surpass the 2,500 yards rushing milestone, becoming only the 6th Beaver to ever accomplish that. He's now only 47 yards behind Dave Schilling for 5th place all time at Oregon State.
Chris Brown played, but never got a carry, odd given that garbage time comprised 1/3 of the game.
"We got dominated in all three phases, and Arizona did a good job," Andersen said.
Most troubling, Oregon State couldn't reach the 100 yard mark passing, with Collins, above, completing only 8 of 24 passes, for just 56 yards. McMaryion wasn't much better, completing only 4 of 10 passes. That math computes to completing only 34% of the passes on the game.
That stat absolutely has to change, or the blowouts will continue to mount.
"We threw the ball unbelievably poor and had very poor decision-making processes at times," Andersen added. "It was ineffective, the offense was basically ineffective and we have to look back a ways right now to figure out where we've played good offense and good defense, frankly."
That the Beavers would struggle this season is no surprise; a roster with almost half the players red-shirt or true freshmen, and only 13 seniors, on it is going to make a lot of mistakes. But coming off a bye and a 15 day break, an almost totally inept performance wasn't what was expected from Andersen, who was 4-0 at Wisconsin, and 2-0 before that at Utah State, coming off bye weeks.
Oregon State looked like a high school team, and a marginal one at that, not a Power-5 conference team, even one in transition.
"It's been frustrating since we walked out of the tunnel," Andersen said.
Beaver Nation is unanimous in support of that analysis.
(USA Today photos via SB Nation)