4. Oregon State Beavers
Opponent: at Arizona | Time: Saturday, Oct. 28, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) | Spread: ORST -3.5
If you asked the average, casual college football fan to name the No. 11-ranked team in the country, how long do you think it would take such a person before they got to the actual answer: the Oregon State Beavers? Probably a while, right?
But here we are, and now Jonathan Smith's team takes a late-night trip in Week 9 to face one of the sneakily hottest teams in the sport, the Arizona Wildcats. Jedd Fisch's group, particularly since Noah Fifita was thrust into action at quarterback, has been causing all kinds of chaos lately, putting a scare into Washington and USC in back-to-back weeks before blowing out Washington State, 44-6.
The sneaky truth about Oregon State, however, is that this isn't the same team top-to-bottom that we saw a year ago. That's most notable on the defensive side of the ball, where they've been one of the worst-tackling units in the country while also simply getting into shootouts way too frequently.
That's a terrible recipe against Arizona in its current form. The Wildcats defense measures out better in terms of Success Rate this season, but more importantly, they also have the more potent, efficient and balanced offense in this matchup.
For me, this game could play out much like the Beavers' one loss on the season (at Wazzu) did. The Cougars jumped out to a big lead as Oregon State couldn't find any stops, then the defense couldn't come up with enough answers as D.J. Uiagalelei tried to mount a comeback.
Arizona is fully capable of writing that script in Tucson on Saturday night, and I might even go as far as to say that's what I expect to play out.