Beavers want to catch second wind against beleaguered Arizona
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- For Oregon State, Saturday's game with Arizona is about getting a hold of some momentum to use for the Pac-10 stretch run. For Arizona, the game is just about holding on.
"We must finish strong, play strong and stay together," said interim coach Mike Hankwitz.
The Wildcats (1-7, 0-4 Pacific-10) visit the Beavers with seemingly little to guide them through the remainder of what has been a torturous season.
Arizona is on a seven-game losing streak, and using its third starting quarterback under its second coach this year.
John Mackovic was fired Sept. 28 after a 1-4 start, leaving defensive coordinator Hankwitz in charge.
And Tuesday, tailback Clarence Farmer, who led the Pac-10 in rushing in 2001, was dismissed from the team. Farmer had an ongoing feud with Mackovic, and he couldn't seem to get along with Hankwitz either. Farmer was held out of the first quarter of the Wildcats 42-14 loss to California last week for violating a team rule, and was thrown off the team by Hankwitz a few days later for undisclosed reasons.
Farmer had 90 carries for 326 yards, sharing time at tailback this season with sophomore Mike Bell. Bell -- who has 78 carries for 483 yards, including a 182-yard game last week at Cal -- now has the rushing duties to himself.
The Beavers (5-3, 2-2) were entertaining Rose Bowl dreams before consecutive losses to Washington and Washington State. Oregon State blew a 12-point, fourth quarter lead in falling to the sixth-ranked Cougars.
"(Our record) definitely does not show the type of team we are," said Oregon State safety Lawrence Turner. "If you look at it, we are four or five plays away from 6-2 or 7-1."
A beleaguered Arizona defensive corps might be the ticket for the re-emergence of the Beavers rushing game. Tailback Steven Jackson has been held to 67 yards per game in the last two weeks, but the Wildcats are last in the conference in rushing, scoring, and total defense.
The Beavers have a four-game winning streak against the Wildcats, and Arizona hasn't scored a touchdown in the last three.
Arizona has had some encouraging moments since Hankwitz took over -- playing tough in close losses to No. 19 TCU and Pac-10 co-leader UCLA.
"It's a dangerous team in that regard. I don't think you can assume anything when you are playing in the Pac-10," said Beavers coach Mike Riley. "If you do that, you're crazy."
Still, the danger for the Beavers is likely in keeping focused on the upcoming games against basement-dwelling Arizona and Stanford, with Oregon and No. 3 Southern Cal on the horizon.
"I don't think you can say it's a fear of them," said Turner about the Wildcats. "I definitely fear which (Oregon State) team is going to show up." ^
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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