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Oregon State Football Opponent Preview: Arizona

Can the Wildcats build off a strong 2nd half performance against Southern Utah?

Arizona v Houston Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Arizona Wildcats

  • 2017-18 Record: 7-6 (5-4 PAC 12)
  • Current Record: 1-2 (0-0)
  • Previous Game Result: Win vs. Southern Utah (62-31)
  • Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin
  • Total Offense Ranking: 63rd in FBS (428.5 YPG)
  • Total Defense Ranking: 111th in FBS (471.5 YPG)

Tale Of The Tape

Sometimes it is hard to judge a team, especially when you have a very small sample size. However, sometimes large sample sizes make predicting a teams’ success even more difficult. Such is the case with the Arizona Wildcats.

The preseason hype surrounding the Wildcats was nearly impossible to miss for those who followed the PAC 12, especially in the PAC 12 South. Khalil Tate had dazzled during the previous year and Kevin Sumlin was bringing stability and a SEC pedigree to a team that had finished 7-6 despite a scandal involving former head coach Rich Rodriguez. Many people believed that Arizona was a serious candidate for the PAC 12 crown, with only USC and Utah serving as competition in a relatively weak PAC 12 South.

Then, when the season finally began, the wheels completely fell off the Wildcat bandwagon. Arizona lost 28-23 in a season opener at home against BYU, a team that finished 4-9 in 2017. As if it wasn’t bad enough, Arizona got absolutely demolished the following week against Houston in a 45-18 blowout. Khalil Tate seemingly couldn’t move the offense like he had in previous years, and the defense seemed to have either stagnated or gotten worse. And considering the defense had been ranked 118th in FBS in 2017, that wasn’t good news for WIldcat fans. Even after defeating Southern Utah 62-31, many fans were left unimpressed, especially since the Wildcats only led 24-17 at halftime. With a winnable game against Oregon State up next, it’ll be important for the Wildcats to start PAC 12 play with a win. Otherwise, Arizona might be in for a rebuilding project that no one saw coming.


Player To Watch

Khalil Tate (Quarterback, Jr.)

Arizona v Houston Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

A preseason Heisman hopeful, it should surprise no one that the Beavers will need to keep an eye out for Khalil Tate. The Junior signal caller has under-performed this season, at least as far as running the football is concerned. Despite rushing for over 1400 yards in 2017, the speedy QB only has 41 more rushing yards than I currently have(Which is exactly zero yards). Tate has performed well through the air, throwing for over 850 yards, 6 TD’s and 2 INT’s. However, he has been very inefficient with his throws, only completing 54.5% of his passes. It should also be noted that Tate is dealing with an ankle injury according to the Arizona Daily Star, with Head Coach Kevin Sumlin saying that Tate “Wasn’t 100%”. Tate is expected to play, but it will be interesting to see how he performs.


Biggest Question Mark

Which Arizona team is going to show up in Corvallis?

NCAA Football: Southern Utah at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Going into last Saturday, the Beavers were looking like a better team with the Wildcats struggling against lower-level competition. However, after a blowout Arizona win over Southern Utah and after the Beavers loss to Nevada, the Beaver and Wildcat fanbases will likely be wondering which Arizona team is going to show up: Will it be the Arizona team that not only lost to BYU and Houston, but also barely led at halftime against a Southern Utah team that the Beavers thoroughly demolished? Or will it be the Arizona team that cruised through the PAC 12 South in 2017? Arizona’s 2nd Half performance against the Thunderbirds is sure to make many WIldcat fans optimistic going into Reser Stadium on Saturday, especially with the Beavers still reeling after a heart-wrenching loss at Nevada. Whether or not that offensive performance is sustainable remains to be seen.


History With Oregon State

The Beavers and the Wildcats have met 39 times, with the Wildcats leading the overall series with 23 wins, 15 losses and 1 tie. The teams met for the first time in Multnomah Stadium(Now Providence Park) in 1966. Led by “The Great Pumpkin” Dee Andros, the Beavers would dominate the game, winning by a score of 31-12 en route to a 7-3 record. The Beavers legendary “Giant Killers” season followed in 1967. The next game between the schools wouldn’t occur until 1971, a 34-22 win for the Wildcats that sparked a 12 game winning streak over the Beavers that lasted from 1971-1990.


Schedule

The Beavers continue PAC 12 play on the road with a game against Herm Edwards and the Arizona State Sun Devils before returning home to play Mike Leach and the Washington State Cougars. The Wildcats return to the desert for PAC 12 match-ups with the USC Trojans and the California Golden Bears.