The Arizona Wildcats have struggled all year. The Oregon State Beavers have also struggled all year. With these two disappointing teams facing off, can the Wildcats escape from Corvallis with a win? We talked to Building the Dam’s Marcus Russell to get his take on this week’s game.
1. The Beavers' offense is one of the most polarized in the country, with a rushing offense ranked 12th in S&P+ and a passing offense ranked 123rd. How has Oregon State managed such a potent rushing attack this season when defenses know it's coming?
Oregon State's running game has been forced to carry the load, because the passing game has been non-existent at times. Even with a healthy Darell Garretson the Beavers couldn't stretch the field and his greatest contribution was running the read-option. Since losing him for the season Marcus McMaryion has filled in admirably, but the passing game still has left a lot to be desired. Ryan Nall (who has been banged up all year) is a beast when healthy and miraculously seems to break a 50+ yard run every game he plays in. Back-up RB, Artavis Pierce is also extremely talented and the coaching staff will incorporate Victor Bolden into the run game on fly-sweeps to stretch the field. So, despite a limited passing game the Beavers do a great job of keeping the defenses honest by coming at you in a variety of ways.
2. On defense, the tale is almost the opposite - Oregon State hasn't been able to stop the run, but has done a very good job against the pass. Who are the difference makers in the secondary, and will they be able to help in run support to slow down Arizona's backfield?
The Beavers secondary has been a pleasant surprise. Devin Chappell (S) and Treston Decoud (CB) have been outstanding all year. Due to injury, Chappell has been playing the nickel, but with Dwayne Willams returning, he will slide back over to the safety position and could help in run support. Oregon State has struggled to stop the run all year though. The were already playing several underclassmen at linebacker and on the D-Line, but injuries have hit especially hard at the linebacker positions, meaning a lot of true freshman have seen extensive playing time this year. Stopping Arizona's ground attack will be very difficult for this front-seven.
3. Oregon State has struggled this season to win games, but has still managed to stay competitive in some tough match-ups (against Utah and Washington State, for example). Looking to the future, has this season been promising or disappointing for the Beavers?
That's a tough question to answer. At (2-8) it's hard to say that its been a promising season, but the Beavers have already shown incredible growth compared to last year. Oregon State has just wrapped up the toughest portion of their schedule and finish the season with two home games that appear to be the most winnable (Arizona & Oregon). If the Beavers can pick up a third win and improve upon last seasons record, I think fans will be optimistic headed into next season. If the Beavers can knock of Oregon and get their first Civil War victory since 2007, fans will be downright giddy for Gary Andersen and the future of this program.
4. What is your prediction for this week's game?
I am shocked the Beavers are favored to win this football game. Unless, Arizona has essentially given up on the season they will have a very good chance to pick up a road win. Oregon State will struggle to stop the run (especially late in the game) and their offense could be in trouble since one of their top receivers is in the hospital recovering from a scary illness and Ryan Nall is questionable (he missed last week). Hopefully, playing at home will give them some extra energy, I'll say the Beavers win a thriller 33-31.
Thanks to Marcus for answering our questions this week, and for more coverage of this week’s match-up from the Oregon State perspective, check out Building the Dam.