James Rodgers

Who is more nervous, the UA DBs or James Rodgers’ knee?
Photo by Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

The Arizona Wildcats have been looking forward to playing Oregon State. The Beavers have been looking forward to playing Arizona. Neither team is looking forward to the cellar but somebody is headed in that direction.

There is also a Thursday game this week so you’d better read this right now!

TWIT-Pac believes even the fans of the oh-fer teams should get to watch their guys play. The TV schedule makes it possible (all times Arizona/Pacific):

FCS-Pacific = Fox College Sports Pacific. Do your hunting now!

Cal (3-1 / 0-1) at Oregon (3-1 / 1-0)
The last time the Ducks played a Thursday night game they scored 60 points against UCLA.

Who do Wildcat fans want to win?
Oregon. This one doesn’t affect the Cats at all so root for what’s best for the conference.

ARIZONA (1-4 / 0-3) at OSU (0-4 / 0-2)
Pac-12 win! Get you first Pac-12 win here!

ASU (4-1 / 2-0) at Utah (2-2 / 0-2)
Arizona State plays at Oregon next week so maybe this is the letdown game. Please?

Who do Wildcat fans want to win?
Utah. Perhaps rookie starter Jon Hays can channel the spirit of Ryan-Katz-against-Arizona-in-2010.

Colorado (1-4 / 0-1) at Stanford (4-0 / 2-0)
At Stanford, at Washington, Oregon, at ASU, USC. The Buffaloes might be riding a seven-game losing streak when they play Arizona in November.

Who do Wildcat fans want to win?
Stanford. Wouldn’t it be great if the Cardinal played everybody in the Pac-12 South?

WSU (3-1 / 1-0) at UCLA (2-3 / 1-1)
This isn’t 100% must-win for the Cougars but considering they still have to play Stanford, Oregon, ASU and Washington, they’d be wise not to let any winnable games get away.

Who do Wildcat fans want to win?
WSU. With an 0-3 conference record “North beating South” doesn’t matter to Arizona anymore, but it would be better if the Bruins came into Tucson with negative momentum.

USC (4-1 / 2-1) – bye
For the third straight week the team that last beat Arizona is on a bye. Oregon State does not have a bye next week. That’s a good sign, right?

Washington (4-1 / 2-0) – bye
Life is good for Polk, Folk and…uh…Seferian-Jenkins.

– – –

Everybody says they want to get off to a fast start but for Arizona it’s critical. Mike Stoops is 27-6 when leading after the 1st quarter and 14-43 when tied or trailing after the first 15 minutes. The Cats switched tactics by taking the ball after winning the coin toss against USC. That should continue to be the plan.

Here’s another reason to put the offense on the field first: 19 first downs and 10 points versus Stanford. 26 first downs and 31 points against Oregon. A school-record 37 first downs plus 41 points at USC.

The offense is improving and a large part of that is due to the introduction of new formations and new plays to keep the opponent guessing. That’s part of what’s so frustrating about the UA defense. Rushing four and dropping into a zone on most plays isn’t working. Where are the adjustments?

Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion is making his third career start. He threw four interceptions against ASU last week. Objectives one, two and three should be to force Mannion to make quick decisions. Even if you have to leave a receiver completely uncovered you have to bring pressure.

The downside is you increase the odds of giving up a big play but so what? Right now the “bend but don’t break” defense is breaking. It’s broke. If you’re going to give up a touchdown anyway, why not choose the method that leaves the most time on the clock so your offense can answer?

The best case scenario on Saturday is a decisive Arizona win that causes fans to say, “Oh. Maybe the early losses were schedule and injury driven and the team can have a nice finish to the season and build momentum for a crucial 2012.”

The worst case scenario is an Arizona loss and the Stoops bandwagon empties like someone dumped a bucket of scorpions on it.

In between is a simple Arizona victory which would probably result in We The People spending the bye week arguing about Stoops’ future. But ‘tis far better to debate how bad things are than to know for certain.

And you thought this was just a game between teams that are a combined 1-8.

– – – – –

Scott Terrell is preparing himself to face the crossroads. Choose your path on Twitter and Facebook.