Originally found on CBS Sports:
No. 11 Oregon State’s Pac-12 Championship hopes took a huge blow in stunning 27-24 loss to unranked Arizona late Saturday night. With two losses in conference play already, Oregon State lost ground on Washington, Oregon and USC at the top of the table. As for the Wildcats, they have already matched their win total from a year ago by advancing to 5-3.
Arizona secured the win with a masterful drive late in the fourth quarter. Up 20-17, the Wildcats took over at their own 45-yard line thanks to a 16-yard punt return from wide receiver Jacob Cowing. Arizona turned to the ground game to chew up some clock and owned the line of scrimmage.
The drive started with four-straight runs of at least five yards, including a 14-yard scamper from running back DJ Williams. After steamrolling their way into the red zone on the ground, quarterback Noah Fifita took to the air, connecting with running back Michael Wiley for a 3-yard passing touchdown. Oregon State answered on its next drive, but it failed to recover the onside kick and Arizona was able to bleed the clock.
While the game ultimately came down to that final drive, Oregon State’s fate may have been decided much earlier when coach Jonathan Smith dialed up one of the most questionable calls of the year. The Beavers had the ball at Arizona’s 16-yard line with three seconds to play in the second quarter. Oregon State lined up for a field goal, but the holder pitched the ball to kicker Atticus Sappington for a fake.
Sappington gained nine yards, but it didn’t matter because time expired. If the Beavers had kicked and made the field goal, than their late fourth-quarter touchdown would have tied the game.
Oregon State isn’t out of the Pac-12 race by any means, but the road just got significantly tougher. The Beavers will have to be perfect against a schedule that features a pair of top-10 opponents in Washington and Oregon over the final two weeks.