Oregon State, off a bye, heads into Tucson this week to face off with the Arizona Wildcats. The Beavers are looking for their third Pac 12 road win of the season — here’s what you can expect from the 1:30 pm kickoff on Saturday.
Third Down Conversions... A lot of Them
Both Oregon State and Arizona respectively are among the best in the country at converting third downs on offense, and the worst at stopping them defensively. That should make for some frustrated fan bases who are getting too used to seeing opponents convert on third and long’s.
Oregon State did, however, do pretty well against Cal in this department, holding them to just 5 of 16 third down conversions. The problem here is, Arizona is not Cal. The Wildcats have a player you may have heard of in QB, Khalil Tate. I think he’ll be the main reason Oregon State has trouble stopping Arizona — But I’ll get into that with the next thing to expect in this game.
Oregon State should be able to move the ball with both the run and pass against the Wildcats, that should lead to some third-and-manageable’s for the Beaver offense, and I expect that they convert a lot of them.
Khalil Tate Will Run For Over 100 Yards
Ah yes, another running QB for OSU’s defense to try and stop. Beaver fans know all too well about the challenges of stopping a mobile QB and sadly, they’re going to see the Beavs go up against one of the best mobile QB’s this decade.
It should be told that Tate has made an effort this season to avoid running as the first option, and focusing on throwing from the pocket. Through 8 games this season, Tate has ran the ball 62 times, for 309 yards and 3 touchdowns. To put that into context, Tate ran for 327 yards and 4 touchdowns against Colorado in 2017, in his first career start.
The thing with this match up though, is Oregon State has been getting some really good pressure on QB’s lately, and I think that is going to lead to Tate electing to run more than he has on average this season. Hopefully OSU can get to him before he busts some explosive plays... but I’ll have to see that to believe it first.
Jake Luton Will Throw For Over 300 Yards
In contrast to Khalil Tate running all over the field, I think Jake Luton is going to have a good day slinging around the football on Saturday. Arizona is one of the worst teams in the country at defending the pass, giving up 302 yards a game — putting them at 122 out of 130 teams in that category.
Isaiah Hodgins should put up his regular numbers (at least), but look out of Kolby Taylor and Champ Flemmings to be more productive than they’ve been in Pac 12 play so far. I’ve been impressed with Taylor’s improved receiving game over the course of the season — he’s still having problems with drops, but has had some really nice runs after the catch and is playing hard lately.
Champ could possibly go for another deep streak route like he did at the end of the first half against Cal Poly, but I also expect the Beavs to try and get him the ball on quick screen’s and see what he can do one-on-one against Arizona’s secondary.