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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Matchups to watch

    Arizona offense vs. Oregon State pass rush

    Skinny: Arizona is down to its third-string quarterback, Kris Heavner, after losing Willie Tuitama and Adam Austin to injuries the last two weeks. Oregon State has already exceeded its sack total from last year (23 to 22) through six games. The Wildcats got their run game going again against Stanford’s NCAA Division I-A worst rushing defense, compiling 220 yards on a season-high 51 carries. Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said Monday that the Wildcats intend to establish the run to take pressure off Heavner and to combat blitzes.

    Advantage: Oregon State. The Beavers have allowed only seven touchdown passes this season, and Heavner hasn’t thrown one since 2004. Arizona should struggle to run the ball against a rush defense that’s ranked 30th nationally at 109.3 yards per game. The offensive line will feel a much stronger push against Oregon State, who has sacked opponents nearly five times as often as the Cardinal this season.

    OSU quarterback Matt Moore vs. Arizona secondary

    Skinny: Moore threw six interceptions in a 29-27 loss to the Wildcats in Corvallis, Ore., last October and won’t have the services of then-senior wide receiver Mike Haas, last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner with 90 receptions for 1,532 yards. Arizona wasn’t tested much by Stanford backup quarterback T.J. Ostrander (13 pass attempts) on Saturday but held the Cardinal to 58 yards passing, a sure confidence boost for a secondary unit that had struggled in weeks before the game.

    Advantage: Arizona. One of the better things going for the Wildcats is that their defensive backfield returns three-quarters intact from last year’s contest. In particular, it will be interesting to see how safety Michael Johnson performs as he plays through a painful quadriceps injury. Last year, he intercepted Moore three times and went on to be named the national Player of the Week. Moore has a sure weapon in wide receiver Sammie Stroughter, who had a career-high 223 yards receiving on seven catches last weekend, but has found him only once in the end zone through six games.

    OSU running back Yvenson Bernard vs. UA run defense

    Skinny: Bernard has quietly excelled over the past season and a half, as the Pacific 10 Conference’s leading returning rusher from last season is on pace (639 yards, 5.0 yards per carry, seven touchdowns) to match his numbers from 2005 (1,321, 4.4, 13). Arizona flipped the stat sheet on Stanford last weekend after finishing with negative rushing yards for three straight contests. The Cardinal ended with minus 6 yards on 19 carries, boosting the Wildcats to third in the Pac-10 in run defense at 108 yards per game.

    Advantage: Oregon State. Arizona had no problem penetrating Stanford’s inconsistent offensive line, but the Beavers have one of the more stout units in the country, led by senior left tackle Adam Koets and left guard Jeremy Perry, who shared last year’s Pac-10 Freshman of the Year award with Wildcat wide receiver Mike Thomas. Bernard had 35 carries for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the teams’ last meeting.

    Prediction:

    Oregon State 24, Arizona 13

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