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Arizona Wildcats vs. Oregon State Beavers Preview and Prediction

Anu Solomon

Anu Solomon

Things have spiraled out of control for Arizona since Pac-12 play started. As injuries and losses pile up, the Wildcats find themselves closing in on the wrong kind of milestone.

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Arizona (2-8, 0-7 Pac-12) has lost eight straight league games dating back to last season and 11 of its last 12. The Wildcats have never finished a season without a Pac-12 win since joining the league back in 1978. Their last winless season in conference play came back in 1957 while Arizona was still a member of the Border Conference.

Getting a victory over Oregon State (2-8, 1-6 Pac-12) might be the Wildcats' best chance to break the ice. The Beavers have weathered their own flurry of injuries at key positions and the attrition has helped foment another long rebuilding season. Oregon State has just three wins over its last 31 Pac-12 games. Twenty of the losses have been by double-digit margins.

Arizona leads the overall series 22-14-1 and beat Oregon State 44-7 last year in Tucson. The Beavers have controlled the series in recent years, however, winning 12 of the last 15 games between the teams.

Arizona at Oregon State

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 19 at 10:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks

Spread: Oregon State -7

Three Things to Watch

1. Who will start at quarterback for Arizona?
Figuring out which quarterback should run the offense continues to be a dilemma for Arizona. Brandon Dawkins and Anu Solomon are listed as co-starters on the depth chart this week. Based on how things have played recently, both players could see time behind center against Oregon State.

Dawkins has started eight games this season, but he has been wildly ineffective since injuring his ribs against UCLA and suffering a concussion against Utah. Over his last three games, Dawkins has thrown for just 221 yards and one touchdown while completing 39.5 percent of his passes. He has fared much better running the ball, totaling 189 yards on 41 carries during that stretch.

Solomon replaced Dawkins in losses to Washington State and Colorado. He didn't do much better at moving the offense in either game. Over his last two games, Solomon has thrown for 170 yards and a touchdown while completing 60 percent of his passes. He’s also been completely ineffective on the ground (-17 yards on 12 carries).

2. Will Oregon State rally around Seth Collins?
Oregon State has been plagued by injuries all season. The Beavers suffered another blow when Collins, a sophomore wide receiver, was hospitalized on Sunday for an undisclosed illness. Collins is in fair condition at the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis.

The speedy receiver has totaled 36 catches for 418 yards and one touchdown, along with 15 carries for 30 yards, so far this season. Collins came to Oregon State as a quarterback. He made seven starts as a true freshman and threw for 936 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 52 percent of his passes. Collins also led the Beavers with 580 rushing yards and eight scores a year ago.

“We're going to support Seth and we're going to be there for him any way we possibly can,” Beavers head coach Gary Andersen said at his weekly press conference on Monday. “My thoughts and prayers are with him just like the team.”

Thirteen different players are already out for the season for Oregon State because of injuries. Thirteen starters for the Beavers have missed a combined 49 starts while battling the injury bug.

3. Can the Wildcats solve their turnover woes?
Holding onto the ball has become a huge issue for Arizona. The Wildcats have turned over the ball 14 times over their last five games while gaining just two takeaways during the same span. Arizona ranks last in the Pac-12 in turnover margin (-8). Only 10 other Power Five teams have given up the ball more times than the Wildcats (19 turnovers) this season.

When Arizona can get takeaways, it generally translates to a successful outcome. The Wildcats are 24-4 under head coach Rich Rodriquez when forcing multiple turnovers. Doing it won't be an easy task against Oregon State.

The Beavers are tied for fifth in the Pac-12 in turnover margin (+1). Oregon State is the Pac-12 co-leader in fumble recoveries (12), although it ranks last in total interceptions (6).

Final Analysis

Both teams are looking to snap long losing streaks. Arizona has dropped eight straight games and Oregon State has lost five in a row. Bowl eligibility is no longer in the picture for either team. The Beavers seem better positioned to get at least one positive result before the season ends. Oregon State's defense is good enough to cash in on Arizona's offensive chaos and scratch out a rare league win.

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Prediction: Oregon State 34, Arizona 27

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.