Arizona Wildcats vs. Oregon State Beavers
Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 3:30 PM (Arizona Stadium)
Arizona -7; Total 73 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
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With a total as absurd as this one, it almost makes sense to simply take the under and walk away. But with these unpredictable Pac-12 teams, it makes sense to get as much information in advance as possible. For example, who would have guessed that Oregon State (3-4, 2-2 Pac-12) is best in the Pac-12 this season against the spread, covering five out of seven times, while Arizona (4-4, 2-3 Pac-12) is the worst against the spread, going 2-5-1 this season?
But that might not be that big of a surprise considering how bad Arizona has been this year compared to expectations. Opening the season at 4-1 was deceiving considering Texas Tech, UCLA, and Colorado all didn’t turn out to be anywhere near as good as expected. Then that opening stretch was followed by three straight losses -- 51-27 vs. Washington, 41-14 at USC, and 41-31 at Stanford.
The question is what happened to Khalil Tate? Remember what a dynamic, athletic quarterback Tate was under Rich Rodriguez? Current Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin seems to want to turn Tate into a pocket passer, which Tate most certainly isn’t, even though he did break out for 103 yards rushing in the Stanford loss. Two years ago, Tate was single-handedly willing the Wildcats to wins. In 2019, he is getting benched for multiple series per game for freshman Grant Gunnell. If Tate was being used the way he was two years ago, there would never be a consideration to ever take him out.
The result has been a losing record under Sumlin. Combine that with the 118th scoring defense in FBS and that leads to numerous losses against the spread. Things certainly won’t get any easier for Arizona either with games remaining against Oregon State, No. 7 Oregon, No. 9 Utah, and previously nationally-ranked Arizona State in Tempe.
In contrast, perennial Pac-12 doormat Oregon State has crawled out of the basement and has been competitive in most games this season, save for a 52-7 drubbing against Utah two weeks ago. But wins over Cal and UCLA in the last three weeks and a narrow 31-28 loss to Stanford shows just how competitive this Beaver team has become.
Jake Luton leads the offense at quarterback completing 135-of-229 passes for 1,602 yards and 16 touchdowns, which is tied for third-best in the Pac-12, as well as just one interception. Artavis Pierce leads the ground attack with 583 yards rushing on the season with five touchdowns, and Isaiah Hodgins is the leading receiver with 745 yards through the air and a Pac-12 best 10 touchdowns. In last week’s win over Cal, Luton managed the game well, completing 18-of-34 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns with Hodgins getting a score on five receptions for 36 yards. Pierce made up the bulk of the offense with 23 carries for 80 yards as well as four receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown.
An interesting thing to watch in this game will be the turnover battle. The winner of the turnover battle very well may be the winner of the game. Oregon State is the best in FBS at holding onto the ball, giving up just two turnovers all season long. However, Arizona is in the top 40 in takeaways with 13. On the other side of the ball, the Wildcats have turned the ball over 15 times (107th best in FBS) but the Beavers have just six takeaways in 2019 (120th in FBS). In short, Arizona gives turns the ball over on offense but gets it back on defense, while Oregon State doesn’t get many takeaways, but it takes care of the ball on offense.
In the end, Oregon State just beat Cal on the road, and Cal seems to be quite a bit better than Arizona. The Wildcats will score, but they can’t stop any team that tries to pass the ball, ranking 128th out of 130 FBS teams in passing yards allowed. Oregon State is a much better passing team than Stanford and the Cardinal just passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns on 30-of-43 passing.
While the 73 number is enticing, this one has a good shot at being a shootout in the desert. But one thing is for sure -- Luton will have no problem moving the ball downfield and adding to his high passing touchdown total. The Beavers could win this one outright, but be safe and take the points.