Wildcats (1-4) vs Beavers (0-4)
They certainly went about it in a different way but the Oregon State Beavers’ end result last week was still the same: a loss. Mike Riley’s team is now 0-4 and starting to really worry about the dreaded winless season.
Last week’s loss at Arizona State was enough to make you wonder if someone put a hex on this team.
Oregon State lead 13-0 in the second quarter before Arizona State scored three unanswered touchdowns, never lost the lead, and won 35-20.
The Beavers return home this week but get an easier opponent in Arizona, an equally desperate team sitting at 1-4 on the year.
So why is a 1-4 team favored to beat poor Oregon State on the road? Maybe it’s because the Beavers have a few key uncertainties.
I’d argue OSU still doesn’t know who its truly starting quarterback is. I know Sean Mannion has been given the reins.
I also know he broke Erik Wilhelm’s 25-year-old team records for pass attempts and completions in a game by going 40 for 66 last week. But I’m not sold just yet. People talk up his performance and conveniently forget to mention that Mannion completed 44 passes, not 40. He hooked up with opposing defenders on four interceptions.
Still, Coach Riley has said little about possibly giving Ryan Katz another shot under center. Maybe he isn’t worried because his Beavers will face one of the country’s worst defensive teams this week.
Arizona is bad no matter how you look at the picture, ranking 115th in total defense, 110th against the pass, 110th against the run and 112th in points allowed.
So maybe I’m wrong to worry about Mannion and whether or not OSU should defer to Malcolm Agnew and the running game more.
One legitimate concern, though, is whether or not Oregon State is ready for Arizona’s aerial attack. Passing is just about the only thing the Wildcats do well but they do it very well, ranking third in the country with 383 yards per game.
Nick Foles has been a surgeon, completing 72 per cent of his passes and tossing 14 touchdown passes versus two interceptions.
The Arizona game looks winnable on paper, and the Beavers really need it with the schedule getting tougher going forward.
If they want that elusive “W,” though, their pass defense needs its best performance so far this season on Saturday.