NOTE: This is an Oregon State story from Gary Horowitz of the Salem (Ore.) Statesman Journal, one of our Gannett partners. Here is a link for more coverage of the Beavers from the newspaper.
CORVALLIS — For Oregon State flanker James Rodgers, the past will be revisited today.
He’d prefer not to discuss last year’s game at Arizona, when after catching an apparent 56-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Katz — a penalty nullified the score – Rodgers was tackled 5 yards into the end zone by safety Adam Hall and suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Two knee operations and almost a year of rehabilitation later, Rodgers has made it back onto the field for the Beavers.
“I haven’t really been thinking about it,” Rodgers said. “I’m good now, so it hasn’t been in my mind.”
Hall, meanwhile, tore his ACL in spring practice and could make his season debut against the Beavers.
OSU won last year’s matchup, 29-27, but the Beavers have a 2-9 record since Rodgers’ injury.
Rodgers, who played in his first game of the season two weeks ago against UCLA, has 10 receptions for 108 yards and one touchdown in two games. He could have extra incentive in a game between two teams in desperate need of a victory.
“It’s gonna be a little different, but at the same time I’ve still got a job to do that I’m coached to do during the week,” said Rodgers, who received a medical hardship and is a fifth-year senior.
“I probably will have a little more fire, but it won’t be anything to get me out of my game.”
Both teams have streaks they hope to end.
OSU is the only team from one of the six Bowl Championship Series automatic qualifying conferences without a victory and has lost six consecutive games dating to last season.
“For all of our staff, it’s one of our biggest challenges ever,” OSU coach Mike Riley said.
Arizona is on a four-game losing streak and has lost nine games in a row to Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
Stakes figure to be high in a game that could be called “The Futility Bowl.”
“A win would feel amazing at this point in the season,” said OSU cornerback Jordan Poyer, who had two interceptions in last week’s loss at Arizona State. “Being 0-4, it’s tough. I think everybody on this team deserves a win.”
A brutal schedule has contributed to Arizona’s struggles. The Wildcats already have played three teams ranked in this week’s top 10 — No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Stanford and No. 9 Oregon.
Arizona quarterback Nick Foles threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s loss at USC. The Wildcats have moved the ball effectively, but stopping the opposition has been a season-long problem.
Arizona is ranked 115th among the 120 FBS schools in total defense and has given up an average of 565 yards per game during its losing streak.
“I’m disappointed with our efforts defensively, but I think our offense is coming on,” Arizona coach Mike Stoops said.
OSU’s offense has been in neutral most of the season and ranks 111th in scoring (16.8 points per game). Arizona could be made to order for a team that has yet to score a first-quarter touchdown.
Sean Mannion set single-game school records last week in pass attempts (66) and completions (40), but he also threw four interceptions.
“A lot of ‘em are decision making,” Mannion said. “I’ve just gotta be smarter with the ball. But at the same time I think our team did a lot of good stuff offensively. … There’s stuff to build off for sure.”