The Arizona Wildcats face a fourth consecutive ranked opponent on Saturday night when they host the 11th-ranked Oregon State Beavers.
OSU (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) is off to its best start in 10 years and is coming off a bye, just as is Arizona (4-3, 2-2). Both teams beat ranked opponents in their last outing.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Arizona is a 3.5-point underdog. Who takes this matchup? Here’s what our staff thinks.
Kim Doss — Arizona wins 38-35
The Beavers are a very balanced team on offense. They have 72 rushing first downs and 74 passing first downs. They average about 50 more yards through the air than on the ground. Fifteen of their TDs have come through the running game and 18 via the pass. The ability of the Arizona defense (both players and coaches) to adapt to that will be the difference in this game.
As for the Arizona offense, it has become much less stressful to watch since the QB change. There are enough offensive weapons that the difference comes down to decision-making. If Noah Fifita starts, that shouldn’t be a concern.
Ezra Amacher — Arizona wins 35-31
Arizona missed on its last opportunity to earn a marquee win on ESPN, falling to USC in triple overtime. I think the program gets over the hump this time, elevating the Wildcats into the top 25 next week. With Noah Fifita at the helm, I expect Arizona’s offense to jump out to an early lead and hold onto it the rest of the night.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 42-35
This game seems like an important one for Arizona. The biggest reason? If Arizona wins against the Beavers, they will only need one more game to become bowl eligible. If they win this game, that path will be easier to get to the end of.
Oregon State is a solid team. Their offensive line is easily one of the top lines in the conference, allowing only 8 sacks this season. Not to mention they block for some of the most talented running backs in the conference in Damien Martinez, who leads the Pac-12 in rushing with 676 yards, and Deshaun Fenwick. This offense will be a good test for the defense, much like the past 3 or so weeks. I’m really interested to see how the linebackers will play against this rushing attack.
The Beaver defense, as solid as it has been all year, has shown cracks and weaknesses. And to be honest, I believe Arizona will be able to exploit those weaknesses. I believe Noah Fifita will start and will continue to just pick apart defenses with the weapons he has. The running back room, which may be better than Oregon State’s talented room, will continue their strong performance against a Beaver defense that has surrendered big games on the ground.
Overall, I’m not sure that OSU’s defense will be able to stop an Arizona offense that has really come into its own under the tutelage of Fifita. I also believe Arizona’s defense will be able to disrupt the Beaver offense enough to slow them down and throw DJ Uiagalelei off his game.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 34-27
When last we saw Arizona they were playing their best game of the season. The effort against Washington State followed solid-to-good performances against USC and Washington, with the trio of games providing evidence t hat the Wildcats are, in fact, a good team.
Following their bye the question is not just if the momentum will carry over, but who the QB will be. Based on Jedd Fisch’s comments, where he has gone from essentially saying Jayden de Laura is the starter to something more vague I’m going to guess Noah Fifita gets the nod against Oregon State.
With that in mind, it’s fair to expect Arizona’s play to at least match what it had been the last few weeks. And if that’s the case, they’ll have just enough to knock off a very good opponent at home.
Devin Homer — Arizona wins 24-21
UA will be able to move the ball against Oregon State, the Beavers defense has struggled on the road against California and Washington State so if that trend continues UA will have a shot at another ranked upset.
It will be a test for Arizona’s run defense this week but it should be a game UA linebackers have circled on the schedule with the run heavy Beaver offense.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 34-24
Arizona hasn’t won the game immediately after a bye since 2017, and often goes into letdown mode after big wins like the one at Washington State two weeks ago. But so far, nothing about the current Wildcats squad is resembling the ones of the recent past, so it’s time to end those trends.
OSU is having a tremendous season but has been porous on defense on the road. The key to stopping the Beavers is to force them to throw the ball, and if Arizona can do that its corners will have another big game like at WSU. Noah Fifita should be the starting quarterback, and as long as he continues to perform like he did in his previous starts the Wildcats will come away from this one needing only one more victory for bowl eligibility.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.