Corvallis, Ore. • Reser Stadium
November 1st, 2003 • 2:00 PM MST
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OREGON STATE AT A GLANCE
Coach: Mike Reiley (13-17, 3 years)
2002 Record: 8-5; Pac-10 4-4, T4th (Lost to Pitt in the Insight Bowl)
Site: Corvallis, OR
Series Record: Arizona leads 16-6-1
Last Meeting: The Beavers have won four in a row against the Cats, including last year's 38-3 pasting.
LAST TIME OUT
The Wildcats were crushed 42-14 against Cal. Oregon State fell 36-30 to Washington State in a game they really could have won.
WHEN THE BEAVERS HAVE THE BALL
Last week Cal ran it down the Wildcats' throat, racking up 327 yards on the ground. Expect the Beavers to try and do the same thing. Steven Jackson is not only one of the best running backs in the Pac-10, but he's one of the best in the nation. Jackson leads the Pac-10 in rushing and is fourth in the nation. He's got a perfect mix of speed, shiftiness and power. He doesn't dance around in the backfield, but can shake and bake when he needs to. Expect Jackson to get 25-30 carries as the Beavers try to wear down the thin Wildcat defensive front.
"They have the best running back (Steven Jackson) that we will face," said Mike Hankwitz. "He is the most consistent, and nobody has totally shut him down. He is a strong, hard-running guy."
Derek Anderson has been a mixed bag at quarterback. He can certainly make big plays, but has been prone to big mistakes as well. He has connected on 25 plays of 25 yards or more, but has also thrown 16 interceptions. Last week against WSU he had ftwo picks, which hleped give the game back to the Cougars.
"They have had times where he (Anderson) has not been overly effective," Hankwitz admitted.
The Cats need to try and force Anderson to throw. If they can cause him to make mistakes, they can compete in this game. Shutting down Jackson will be vital in making Anderson air it out, but that is a task better defenses have failed to do.
WHEN ARIZONA HAS THE BALL
The biggest news is that Clarence Farmer is no longer with the team. The talented runner was suspended for the rest of the season and his absence will be felt. This puts the pressure on Mike Bell. The sophomore is coming off the best game of his career and the team has been running the ball much better the past few weeks.
"They like to run the ball," said Mike Reiley "They run it out of a two-back set most of the time; that and the play-action passing are things we'll have to deal with. That, and then getting out on third down. That's another big thing special about them. But we have to be good against the run and the play-action pass this week." Turnovers have been a key for Arizona as well. True freshman Kris Heavner has struggled with interceptions and they all seem to come at the worst time. His pick in the redzone last week gave the Bears momentum that they never relinquished. Heavner does show great poise and when he doesn't force the ball he makes plays.
Speedy Nic Costa should also see time this week. He has an added dimension of speed that Heavner does not have and makes defenses pay attention.
Arizona continues to get good play out of their patchwork offensive line, but they'll have their hands full with one of the best defenses in the Pac-10.
"We have a good defense," Reiley said. "We've moved steadily up in statistical rankings, whatever that means to you. I think we're second in the league in both offensive and defensive stats right now."
The big defensive stud is linebacker Richard Seigler, but Bill Swancutt and Mitch Meeuwsen and the rest of the unit are very strong. Swancutt is a great pass rusher, while Meeuwsen is a ball hawk safety with a nose for the ball.
"They have a veteran defense that is very aggressive," Hankwitz said. "They are a formidable bunch and an aggressive bunch."
OUTLOOK: Oregon State is the better team, but can be beat if they beat themselves. If Arizona can run the ball and cut down on turnovers, while forcing the Beavers to make mistakes, they have a shot to keep it close. If Jackson runs wild and the Cats turn the ball over, the Beavers will roll and win going away.
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