The Arizona Wildcats head to Corvallis this weekend to take on the Oregon State Beavers in their Pac-12 opener. Both teams enter Saturday’s game with a 1-2 record, but the Wildcats are currently 6.5-point favorites.
Here is how we think the game will play out. Be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Christopher Boan — Arizona wins 31-28
Strange things happen in the mold-infested den known as Reser Stadium (just ask USC). That said, the Beavers are by far the worst team in the Pac-12, rivaling Rutgers for the number-one spot atop the worst FBS teams in America. Arizona’s not far above the Beavers, but has Khalil Tate and Shun Brown to lean on.
These are likely the two worst defenses in the conference, with OSU giving up 46.3 PPG (dead-last), 522.0 YPG (also dead-last) and three sacks this season (second-to-last). Arizona, on the other hand, isn’t much better, ranking 10th in the conference in points allowed (34.7), 11th in yards per game (468.7) and dead-last in sacks (2).
This one is the football equivalent of watching paint dry, requiring a night’s worth of heavy drinking, or eye bleach, to withstand the sheer volume of missed tackles and blown coverages that we’ll witness. I expect both teams to look awful, with Lucas Havrisik bailing the Wildcats out with a last-minute field goal to earn the win.
Brian Pedersen — Arizona wins 38-30
It’s amazing how much bigger this game has become for Arizona in less than a month but that’s the reality we’re in now. I’m not being outlandish by saying this is the biggest game of the season for the Wildcats, one that will likely dictate whether they can still have a good year or they’ll be at the bottom of the standings. Considering how weak the Pac-12 looks right now every remaining game is winnable and this is one Arizona can’t afford not to take. It won’t be pretty, particularly when the Beavers are up against the Wildcat defense, but in the end UA will win its first conference opener since 2014.
Jason Bartel — Arizona wins 34-31
I think this is going to be a back-and-forth game but the Wildcats will come out on top with a Lucas Havrisik field goal at the buzzer. I know it was Southern Utah, but the reshuffled offensive line gave me new faith in how this team can move the ball. And I just don’t think the Beavers are good enough to take full advantage of Arizona’s many weaknesses.
Zant Reyez — Arizona wins 35-30
It’s going to be a close game, but I think the offense can muster just a little bit to get the win over the Beavers. The defense is going to still look lost, but somehow will find a way to get a stop or two when needed.
I’m still looking at Khalil Tate to see if he’s healthy. I still think he’s running on a bad wheel and it’s hindering what he and the offense can do. The ‘Cats need this win to avoid having this once promising season turn into a bleak one.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 42-38
The reason the score is so close is because of Arizona’s run defense. OSU has a pretty good running back in freshman Jermar Jefferson and I expect him to create problems all game.
However, OSU’s defense is arguably worse than Arizona’s and the ‘Cats have better athletes on offense. It will be close but I think Arizona starts Pac-12 play 1-0.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 35-31
Both teams will score a lot because both defenses are awful, but I don’t expect this game to be anything like last year’s game when Arizona won by three touchdowns and broke the school rushing record.
Khalil Tate, who ran for 206 yards against the Beavers last season, is banged up and has not been much of a rushing threat this year, which makes Arizona much more reliant on an inconsistent passing game.
Speaking of inconsistent passing games, the Beavers are going to be starting a backup quarterback, which is never a good thing, and it’s probably the reason why I’m not picking them in this one.
Corvallis can be dangerous, though.