The opponent’s view: Beavers hope road success in Tucson continuesby Anthony Gimino on Oct. 08, 2010, under Sports
(NOTE: This is a story by Gary Horowitz from Friday’s edition of the Salem Statesman Journal, one of TucsonCitizen.com’s partners under Gannett ownership.)
In recent years, Oregon State has done some of its best work on the road. The Beavers hope that trend continues Saturday at No. 9 Arizona.
OSU has won eight of its past 11 Pac-10 road games, including four consecutive matchups against Arizona in Tucson. So what’s behind the road warrior mentality?
“I hope the program’s growing to the point where through the years, it becomes part of the identity,” coach Mike Riley said.
“If you’re gonna be a good team, you’ve got to win some games on the road. If you’re gonna compete for a conference championship, you certainly do.”
The Beavers were 6-3 in Pac-10 road games the past two seasons, which put them in position to play for a Rose Bowl berth in the Civil War.
OSU players embrace the challenge of playing in hostile environments, although the Beavers did not prevail this season against then-No. 6 TCU in Arlington, Texas, or at then-No. 3 Boise State.
But there is a familiarity factor about playing road games in Pac-10 venues.
“It’s not a big difference. It’s really all in your mind,” safety Lance Mitchell said. “It’s really about being focused on what you’re going down there for.”
OSU heads to Tucson with designs on keeping its unblemished Pac-10 record intact. It won’t be easy.
The Wildcats, who are the third top-10 team OSU has faced this season, are ranked in the top 10 for the first time since the 1999 preseason Associated Press poll.
“We just kind of ignore it. It’s not a big deal to us,” coach Mike Stoops said. “We’ve been ranked before, and again, we’re just trying to concentrate on Oregon State.”
Arizona appears to have its strongest team since the 1998 squad went 12-1 and defeated Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.
The Wildcats, who have put together back-to-back eight-win seasons, feature one of the strongest defenses in college football. Arizona ranks second nationally in total defense (230.8 yards per game) and third in scoring defense (11 points per game).
“They look like a good defense,” said quarterback Ryan Katz, who has yet to throw an interception this season and had his best game in last week’s 31-28 victory against Arizona State. He threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
“They fly around the ball. They make a lot of plays.”
Arizona is coming off a bye and should be well-rested.
In last year’s 37-32 Arizona victory in Corvallis, quarterback Nick Foles threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start. He’s improved as a junior in 2010, completing a Pac-10-best 74.5 percent of his passes.
“He’s one of those guys that just sees it all and makes the plays,” Riley said.
Oregon posted a 19-17 victory in its last appearance at Arizona in 2008, but the win was costly. Tailback Jacquizz Rodgers suffered a shoulder injury and missed the last two games of the season.
“I don’t think about that type of stuff,” Rodgers said. “The main thing is me and my team staying as healthy as we can and just trying to finish the season off good.”