The Arizona Wildcats awoke Monday to the role of … naw, it couldn't be.
Favorites? On the road?
Las Vegas oddsmakers are listing the reeling Cats as anywhere from 1 1/2- to 2-point favorites in Saturday's game against Oregon State in Corvallis. While the line is more an indication of the Beavers' struggles, it's also indicative of just how winnable the game is for a UA team that needs a win.
Arizona (1-4 overall, 0-3 Pac-12) has lost its last four games by a combined score of 178-96. Since losing to lowly Sacramento State in its opener, Oregon State (0-4, 0-2) has been rolled by Wisconsin, UCLA and Arizona State.
"They're as desperate as we are for a win," UA coach Mike Stoops said. "We need to try to gain some momentum this week."
Arizona center Kyle Quinn said the game is "big - it's going to be a dogfight."
"Both programs are hungry for wins, both are on a losing streak," he said. "It's one of those weeks where you want to go in there, have a great week of practices and go from there."
Arizona may be getting at least one of its injured starters back. Safety Adam Hall, a Palo Verde High School grad, is expected to make his 2011 debut against the Beavers, six months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL.
It's unclear how UA coaches would use Hall, or whether his return would prompt safety Robert Golden to move back to cornerback. Stoops said Monday that he's sticking with the embattled Shaquille Richardson at cornerback, and played coy when asked about Hall's health, and role.
"We'll see," Stoops said.
The Wildcats need Hall. Arizona ranks 116th nationally (out of 120 teams) in rushing defense, 111th in passing defense and 115th in total defense.
Arizona is allowing 37.6 points per game, most in the Pac-12.
Washington out; Fuimaono to follow
Arizona will be without one defensive tackle for a few weeks, and a second one announced Monday that he's leaving at the end of the season.
Justin Washington underwent "minor knee surgery" last week, Stoops said, and will miss at least this week's game against Oregon State. Washington registered 10 tackles and two tackles-for-loss in the Wildcats' first four games; he did not play in Saturday's 48-41 loss to USC.
Meanwhile, Sani Fuimaono said he plans on taking a Mormon mission after this season, a two-year commitment that would cost him the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Fuimaono has racked up five tackles so far this season; he started for Washington two weeks ago, while Jowyn Ward got the nod against USC.
The Mormon faith encourages young men between the ages of 19 and 25 to consider two-year proselytizing missions.
Fuimaono, a freshman from Kaneohe, Hawaii, said he plans on "coming back here, returning and helping bring Arizona a championship" when his mission is done.
"My strength in my faith and my religion didn't waver at all," he said.
Go for two?
Stoops said he would have gone for two points and the win had Arizona been able to score one more touchdown against USC.
Given Arizona's kicking struggles, it would have been a smart play.
Senior Alex Zendejas missed one PAT and had another one blocked against the Trojans. The Wildcats converted a two-point conversion in the third quarter then went back to Zendejas, who hit his final three attempts.
Zendejas remains the team's No. 1 kicker, Stoops said.
"We just need guys to step up and make the normal kicks for us - not do anything out of the ordinary," Stoops said. "Just be good, make the ones we're capable of making and go from there."
• Wide receiver Juron Criner caught a season-low three passes for 29 yards against USC.
"It was disappointing that he didn't have more catches and more touches," Stoops said. "We need to get him involved in the beginning of the game."
• Fox College Sports will carry Saturday's game against the Beavers, with Steve Physioc and Yogi Roth calling the action.
• What: Arizona at Oregon State
• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
• TV: Fox College Sports Pacific (check your cable guide for availability)
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM