NOTEBOOK: Arizona at Oregon State

Series history...the last time the UA and OSU met...the last time Arizona visited Corvallis...those dang turnovers...the veteran versus the newbie and more.

Head coach: Mike Stoops (4th season)
(Career: 14-15  | At Arizona: 14-15)
Current ranking: NR
Current record: 2-3, 1-2
Streak: One game winning streak
Head coach: Mike Riley (7th season)
(Career: 40-37 | At OSU: 40-37)
Current ranking: NR
Current record: 2-3, 0-2
Streak: Two game losing streak


Last time Oregon State and Arizona met...
Oct. 21, 2006 in Tucson - Oregon State 17, Arizona 10
Oregon State and Arizona met at Tucson with the Beavers holding on to take a defensive struggle by a 17-10 final. OSU TB Yvenson Bernard rushed for 107 yards and the Beaver defense shut down the Wildcats offense.

OSU limited UA to 13 first downs, 22 yards rushing, 183 yards total offense and no offensive TDs (the Arizona touchdown came on a punt return for a score by Syndric Steptoe). In addition, the Beaver defense posted 11 tackles for loss and picked off two passes. ... more from | Post game notebook


Last time Arizona played in Corvallis...
Oct. 29, 2005 - Arizona 29, Oregon State 27
Arizona and Oregon State met on a showery day at Corvallis with the Wildcats edging the Beavers, 29-27, to snap a five game losing streak coming in and a six-game losing streak to OSU. Both sides posted big numbers and featured big plays, but OSU was done in by interceptions and penalties in falling just short.

Arizona freshman QB Willie Tuitama made his first career start and passed for 335 yards and two TDs. On the receiving end, WRs Michael Thomas (162) and Anthony Johnson (117) both topped the 100-yard mark receiving and had a TD reception. For the Beavers, TB Yvenson Bernard rushed for 192 yards and two TDs and QB Matt Moore threw for 436 yards (4th highest in OSU history), but suffered six interceptions. Arizona SS Michael Johnson had three of the interceptions, returning one 40 yards for a TD ... more from | Post game notebook


Last time Arizona played...
Sept. 29, 2007 - Arizona 48, Washington State 20
For Arizona it was a must win game. Although they had a long hill to climb if they hope to have any chance at a bowl game, a loss would have been devastating to their confidence. The Cats got two great performances from two true freshmen.

It was a game full of freshmen firsts. Nicholas Grigsby not only had career highs in rushing yards, receiving yards and attempts, but his 186 yards are the most by a Wildcat freshman since Ontiwaun Carter in 1991 ... more from


Last time Oregon State played...
Sept. 29, 2007 - UCLA 40, Oregon State 14
Oregon State led the entire game against UCLA and was up 14-12 with just over nine minutes to go in the game before disaster struck.

Bruin QB Ben Olson connected with WR Brandon Breazell for a 69-yard touchdown on a missed tackle and OSU kickoff returner Gerard Lawson fumbled three consecutive kickoffs, two recovered by UCLA and converted into points, as UCLA ran away with a 40-14 victory.

The Oregon State passing game was inept as QB Sean Canfield completed 22 of 35 for 146 yards and two interceptions. RB Yvenson Bernard ran for 125 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries, but was held in check in the second half ... more from | Post game notes


Series history (Arizona leads 20-9-1, 9-6-1 in Oregon).
Oregon State and Arizona meet for the 31st time Saturday with Arizona holding a 20-9-1 series lead, including 8-5-1 in Corvallis and 1-1 in Portland. Oregon State won the first meeting in the series 31-12 in 1966 in Portland.

The Beavers have won seven of the last eight, including the last three at Arizona Stadium, but the Wildcats won the last contest in Corvallis (see above).


You can't run on us!
Oregon State enters the game third in the nation for rush defense, allowing a 50.2 yards per game, trailing LSU and Boston College, while allowing just 1.4 yards per rush.   OSU is 21st nationally for total defense giving up 301.8 yards per game.

A big part of the statistic is OSU is tied for tenth in the nation for quarterback sacks with 17 and sixth for yardage lost via the sack with 131 yards. OSU is also sixth in the nation for accumulated yardage for tackles-for-loss with 204.


On the flip side.
Oregon State has outscored its opponents 54-3 in the first quarter this season and over the last 14 games has a margin of 134-27. On the down side, the Beavers have been outscored 52-27 in the fourth quarter, including 45-6 over the last two games.


One game at a time.
Five of Oregon State's six road opponents appear in this week's Associated Press top-25. USC checks in at No. 2 (No. 1 inUSA Today), California is No. 3, Oregon is No. 14, Arizona State is No. 18 and Cincinnati is No. 20. Washington State is the only team the Beavers face on the road that is currently not ranked.


Giant Killers Reunion.
One of the most decorated football teams in the history of Oregon State is holding its 40th reunion during the weekend. The "Giant Killers" of 1967 posted a 7-2-1 record with victories over No. 1 USC, No. 2 Purdue and then tied the new No. 2 UCLA. Oregon State's 3-0 win over O.J. Simpson led USC was the Trojans only loss of the year on their way to a national title.


Those dang Turnovers.
The good: Over the last 42 games, Oregon State is 18-2 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent, 3-14 when committing more turnovers and 3-2 when even. In its victories last season, Oregon State was plus-14 for turnover margin; in its losses minus-6.

The not so good: Oregon State leads the nation in the dubious turnover category with 21, which includes a NCAA worse 15 interceptions. The Beavers are a minus-10 overall -- three teams are worse -- Northern Illinois (-11), and North Carolina State and Minnesota (-12).  Sean Canfield is second in the nation with 11 interceptions.

The effects: Opponents have had a short field on several scoring drives this season. To be exact, opponents have scored 72 points or 53 percent of the total 135 points when starting at midfield or in OSU territory. The stat does not factor in another seven points that Cincinnati scored on a blocked punt. In comparison, OSU's offense has scored 34 points or 25 percent of its total when starting at the opponents' 50-yard line or deeper.


Same as it ever was.
Oregon State was sitting at 2-3 last season on the evening of Oct. 7. The team won eight of its final nine, including defeating nationally ranked USC and Hawai'i on the way to a 10-4 record and Sun Bowl title.  On thing to keep in mind though this year is that the team does not have a senior quarterback, nor do they have the difficult games at home this year.  Plus key offensive players - Sammie Stroughter and Jeremy Perry - have been out for most of the year.

Here is a comparison of key OSU's statistics through five games last season vs. this season:


True freshman watch.
Wide receiver Darrell Catchings has 12 receptions for 135 yards, including having the first touchdown of the season via the pass, and will be starting his second consecutive game at split end. Wide Receiver James Rodgers has made his presence known on rushing plays with 10 attempts for 131 yards, good for second on the team.  He also has four catches for 60 yards.

Freshman linebacker Keith Pankey has been activated from redshirt status due to injuries on special teams and saw his first action at Arizona State.  He has five tackles in two games on special teams.


The veteran vs. the newbie.
The newbie: True freshman RB Nic Grigsby etched his name into the lore of Arizona history with 186 rushing yards on 30 carries (6.2 ypc) against Washington State last weekend. The ground-pounding total equaled the true freshman rushing mark posted by former UA great Hubie Oliver in 1977. Grigsby also grabbed a team high nine catches for 76 years for 221 all-purpose yards.

The veteran: Senior running back Yvenson Bernard stands in third place on OSU's career rushing list with 3,150 yards behind Ken Simonton (5,044) and Steven Jackson (3,625).

He is the Pac-10's active leader and needs to average 68 yards per game to catch Jackson.  He needs 664 yards to rank among the top-11 for career rushing the conference.  If he cracks the top 10 that would make Oregon State the only other school, besides USC, with more than one individual in the top 11. 

Some other facts about Bernard - OSU has won seven of its last nine games when he rushes for 100-plus yards; he has a legitimate chance to be the seventh player in Pac-10 history to post three 1,000-yard seasons, he has rushed for 100-plus yards in 15 of the last 26 games, he is fifth in the Pac-10 for rushing at 100.4 per game; he has at least one rushing TD in 13 of the last 19 games.


Air Zona.
UA's new spread offense, aka "Air Zona," is taking hold under the lights-out play of QB Willie Tuitama. The Cats lead the Pac-10 in pass offense and are the only league team over 300 yards per game at 323.8 (No. 11 in the nation).

Likewise, Tuitama leads the Conference in passing yards at 320.0 yards per game, almost 30 yards better than runnerup Alex Brink of WSU (291.8). After throwing five TD passes in win against Washington State last week, Tuitama shares the TD pass lead with Brink at 15 each. Tuitama is completing 63.6% of his passes and has just four picks in a league-high 225 passing attempts.

Arizona has scored 154 points in five games (30.8 per game) after scoring just 199 in 12 games last year.

The three man pass-catching collection of Mike Thomas, Terrell Turner and Anthony Johnson has become favored targets in the Arizona offense. In UA's last four games, Money Mike, T.T. and A.J. have teamed up for 68 catches, 874 yards and nine touchdowns.


Additional notes.

  • Starting this week Arizona plays the next three of four games on the road.

  • Oregon State has outscored opponents 54-3 in the first quarter this season.

  • OSU defense has picked off six passes in the last three games.

  • The loss to UCLA last week snapped a five-game home winning streak for the Beavs. It also marked only the second time in 24 games over the last three seasons that OSU has lost when leading after three quarters. Oregon State is 35-6 when it leads after three quarters with Mike Riley as the head coach.

  • PK Alexis Serna has made an OSU-record 119 straight extra points and is moving in on the Pac-10 record of 139, held by ASU's Jesse Ainsworth (2003-06).

  • OG Ray Schuening has made 41 straight starts.

  • QB Sean Canfield has averaged 274.3 yards per game passing over the last three contests while completing 102 of 144 (.708) of his pass attempts.

  • Mike Stoops have defeated a Pac-10 opponent twice, just once - Washington State.

  • WR ‘Money' Mike Thomas is the Pac-10 leader in receptions per game (7.0) and is third in the conference in receiving yards per game (79.8).  He is seventh in the Pac-10 in all-purpose yards (119.6), checks in at 10th in scoring (7.2) and has caught six TD passes this season.

  • UA Captains - Sr. LB Spencer Larsen, Sr. DB Antoine Cason, Sr. WR Anthony Johnson, Jr. QB Willie Tuitama and Soph. OL Eben Britton

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