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Arizona looks to avoid let-down game against Oregon State

(AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File)

It’s time to get back on track and take care of business for Arizona. Wow, that’s a remark no one was expecting in the middle of November.

After cruising in a four-game win streak the Wildcats were dealt a humbling loss on the road to then-ranked No. 17 USC, 49-35.

Now, Arizona returns to Tucson to face the worst team in the Pac-12, Oregon State.

The Beavers are coming off a 37-23 road loss to Cal and have yet to win a game in conference play.

As hefty favorites against a Pac-12 team, the Wildcats find themselves in an unfamiliar position. Arizona has to be wary of this not being a let-down game following the loss to USC.

Essential Info

What: Arizona (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12) vs. Oregon State (1-8, 0-6 Pac-12)

When: 8:00 p.m.

TV: ESPN2

Storylines to follow

The perfect mismatch

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate has the 12th-most rushing yards this season despite having only ten carries in the first two weeks. The quarterback has the highest yards per rushing attempt with 11.4 yards and has 1,087 yards on only 95 carries.

The star quarterback had also won three consecutive Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Award prior to the USC game.

Tate had his highest workload this season in a losing effort to the Trojans as he carried the ball 26 times to account for 161 yards. The Trojans contained him to his lowest yards per attempt total and it was still 6.2 yards a carry.

Now the emerging star will head into a favorable matchup against OSU, who has allowed at least 200 yards rushing in two of their last three games.

Picks, picks and more picks

Beavers quarterback Darell Garretson has taken the reins of the offense since his start against Washington in late September.

Garretson has not been stellar as he’s had only one game over 200 yards and has thrown three interceptions to go with a single touchdown.

The Wildcats have the fourth-most interceptions in the nation with 15 and will get a chance to pick off a few against a sub-par Garretson.

The secondary alone has 12 interceptions, with junior safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (3), senior safety Dane Cruikshank (2), junior cornerback Jace Whittaker (3), redshirt freshman Lorenzo Burns (3) and redshirt Jarrius Wallace (1).

Legit or not?

Since Beavers cornerback coach Cory Hall has taken over the play has vastly improved.

Before Hall, the Beavers lost their first three Pac-12 games by at least 28 points. In Pac-12 games with the interim coach, OSU has yet to win a game, but have lost by a total of 18 points.

The Beavers came close to upsetting then-ranked No. 20 Stanford, leading the entire second half until the final 20 seconds of the game by giving up a touchdown to lose 15-14.

The expectation for most is that the Wildcats should easily be able to get their fifth Pac-12 victory, but OSU should not be overlooked with its scrappy play in recent weeks.

Does size matter?

The three leading receivers for the Beavers have some serious size to them. The group includes 6-foot-4 tight end Noah Togiai, 6-foot-5 receiver Jordan Villamin and 6-foot-4 receiver Isaiah Hodgins.

Matching with the Wildcats corners, Burns is 5-foot-10 and Whittaker is 5-foot-11. The safeties have a little bit more height with Flannigan-Fowles at 6-foot-2 and Cruikshank at 6-foot-1.

Garretson has not proven to be the most accurate passer this season by completing only 55.1 percent of his passes, but the difference in his receiver’s height should be something to monitor throughout the game.

Stats to know

51.3 – The Beavers have allowed opposing teams to convert on third-downs 51.3 percent of the time, which ranks 128th in the nation.

12 – OSU has only given up 12 sacks all season, the fourth best Pac-12 team in protecting the quarterback.

9 – Arizona has given up the least amount of sacks in the Pac-12 with only nine.

12 – The Beavers have the fewest sacks in the Pac-12 with only getting to the quarterback 12 times.

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