Tonight (late tonight), Oregon State takes on Arizona for this year’s Dad’s night game,which will also be the 300th OSU game played at Parker/Reser Stadium .
It will be cold, damp, dark, and generally miserable, especially for the desert dwelling Wildcats. It will be interesting to see if the ‘Cats even bother to try, and there’s history of them not under difficult circumstances, including as recently as last year in Seattle. In fairness, its impossible to prepare in Tucson for what football in November in the northwest can be like.
Further, Arizona is the one team in the conference that’s in even worse shape than Oregon State, as far as injuries, talent deficit, and lack of depth goes. It’s why the ‘Cats are also 2-8, the same sorry record that the Beavers have, and an even worse 0-7 in conference. And why the Beavers are 6 1/2 point favorites, the first time Oregon State has been favored in a Pac-12 game in the Gary Andersen era, or against any FCS squad not named San Jose State in years.
It’s also the first visit to Reser by the ‘Cats since 2011, when a 37-27 Beaver win set up Oregon State for a 3 win season (the same thing a win tonight could do), and led to the firing the first of the following week of Arizona coach Mike Stoops. Which led to the hiring of Rich Rodriguez, and bowl trips every year for the ‘Cats until this season’s injury induced collapse.
Unlike Stoops, Rodriguez won’t be fired should Oregon State win.
Why the game is this late when its been relegated to the Pac-12 network is unknown. Games ESPN or Fox wants for the night tv game slots make sense to be played that late for exposure purposes, but with the USC-UCLA game also at that time, its hard to see how viewership of the ‘Cats and Beavers benefits from this time slot, and in all likelihood suffers because of it, on tv as well as in the stadium.
Oregon State will be without Bright Ogwoegbu, who also missed last week’s game, and is now officially out for the season, as well as Adam Soseman, Ogwoegbu’s replacement, who was knocked out in the first quarter at UCLA.
The Beavers will also be without safety Jalen Moore, who came back after missing the first half of the UCLA game due to one of the seemingly weekly controversial targeting penalties, only to suffer a season ending injury this week in practice.
And of course Seth Collins, out with “an illness” everyone knows is meningococcal disease.
But the Beavers may get some snaps from outside linebacker Titus Failauga and defensive back Dwayne Williams, who both returned to practice for the first time in over a month this week.
Ryan Nall’s ankle might even allow him to get into a game, which, being a rare winable one, would be an especially good time to do so.
Whether Conor Blount will play will be an in-game decision, based on how well starting Oregon State quarterback Marcus McMaryion is playing. Given his performance last week against UCLA, game ending pick-6 not withstanding, was his career best, its entirely possible Blount won’t get in, and also entirely possible that he shouldn’t.
And with Collins sidelined, there is no non Mason Moran red-shirt burning backup plan left at quarterback beyond Blount, so managing that position just got even trickier.
It should be a very different game than last year in Tucson, a day game played in temperatures well above 100 degrees, for the same reason we are playing late tonight; television executives
who won’t be in the stadium to experience the prevailing conditions.
Last year, Rodriguez’s team was healthy, and roared out to a 34-7 halftime lead over the Beavers, who were totally unprepared, for the heat or the uniqueness of Rich Rod’s system, something none of the players had ever seen the likes of before, and coasted to a 44-7 rout of a win.
If Oregon State learned anything from that experience, and Arizona pulls a no-show, the Beavers could not only get the win, they might even make it a convincing one. Considering that the ‘Cats got blown out 49-24 on their home field last week by Colorado, after they got torched to the tune of 69-7 the game before by Washington State in Pullman, extending their losing streak to 7 games, the last 6 all double digit blowout losses, this is the biggest chance for the Beavers to beat a non-FCS foe by a comfortable margin in a long time.
But this is another episode of #Pac12LongLongAfterDark, and nothing can be assumed. Well, nothing but getting home long after midnight!
(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)