CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) -- Led by a defense that is showing flashes of its 2000 dominance, Oregon State could yet be a factor in the Pac-10 race -- especially considering that the Beavers' three losses came against teams that are a combined 17-0, and their next three opponents are 5-11.
''We have some confidence now,'' coach Dennis Erickson said. ''Now we know we can win, and that's the most important thing.''
Oregon State (2-3, 1-2 Pac-10) can't match the dizzying success of last year's 11-1 campaign, and there won't be another trip to a Bowl Championship Series game. But Saturday night's win put the Beavers in position for a winning season and trip to the postseason -- which would be the third straight time for each. Not bad for a program that went 22-76-1 in the nine years before coach Dennis Erickson's arrival in 1999.
The Beavers need four more victories to qualify for a bowl game, and their next three games are against teams in the bottom four spots in the conference: at Arizona State (3-2, 0-2) on Saturday; vs. California (0-5, 0-3) on Oct. 27; and at Southern California (2-4, 1-3) on Nov. 3. After a home game against Washington on Nov. 10, the Beavers welcome Division I-AA Northern Arizona on Nov. 17.
The Beavers' defense was superb, holding Arizona to 159 yards. Ken Simonton added 104 yards rushing and a 1-yard touchdown that made the score 35-0 with 5:26 left in the third quarter.
Unlike their performances against unbeaten Fresno State, UCLA and Washington State, Oregon State attacked early, taking advantage of several Arizona mistakes.
The defense's pressure on Wildcats quarterback Jason Johnson was the key. Johnson was sacked three times and hit hard on several other plays. The defensive effort was a complete reversal from the previous two games, in which the unit gave up a total of 876 yards and fell to last place in the Pac-10 in stopping the run at 198.5 yards. Arizona had just 46 yards rushing.
Arizona (3-3, 0-3) has allowed 149 points and 1,443 yards in consecutive losses to Washington State, Oregon and the Beavers.
Asked where his team goes from here, Wildcats coach John Mackovic said, ''Seattle,'' referring to next week's game at No. 15 Washington.
Oregon State's offense wasn't sharp early. After stalling at the Wildcats' 19, the Beavers tried a fake field goal, but it went awry when holder Seth Trimmer was tackled for a 17-yard loss.
Arizona couldn't capitalize, and halfback Clarence Farmer fumbled at his own 36. Jonathan Smith then hit James Newson for a 2-yard touchdown to give Oregon State its first lead since it beat New Mexico State 27-22 on Sept. 8. A little more than 2 1/2 minutes later, the Beavers' Cole Clasen blocked Ramey Peru's punt, and Kenny Farley recovered the ball in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
Clasen, a 5-foot-8 freshman walk-on, also caught four passes for 58 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown from backup Derek Anderson that made the score 28-0. It was the first college score for both players.
''I thought I overthrew him at first, but it's nice to get that first one; it's pretty sweet,'' Anderson said.
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