Arizona Vs. Oklahoma State Final Score: 'Cats Blown Out 37-14 By Cowboys

The Wildcats struggled mightily against a superior Oklahoma State team.

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Arizona vs. Oklahoma State: Game Time, TV & Broadcast Info, Notes & More

The Arizona Wildcats play their first road game of the 2011 football season on Thursday evening against the Oklahoma St. Cowboys of the Big XII. Oklahoma State is 4-3 all-time against the Wildcats, with the first contest being played in 1931. Here is the relevant information regarding the game:

Teams: Arizona Wildcats, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK
TV: ESPN, ESPN3.com
Radio: Arizona Radio Network, 1290 AM Tucson
Rankings: Oklahoma State is ranked #9 in the Associated Press poll and #7 in the USA Today Coaches poll; the Cowboys are ranked No. 18 in the week one Sagarin ratings, while the Wildcats are No. 26.
Favorite: OSU is favored by 14.5 points, according to Bodog.
Last Meeting: Oklahoma State defeated Arizona handily in the 2010 Alamo Bowl, 36-10.
Streaks: Arizona is 1-5 in its last six games, while Oklahoma State is 6-1 in their last seven contests.

For more news and information on Nick Foles, Juron Criner and Arizona Wildcats football, head on over to AZ Desert Swarm.

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Arizona vs. Oklahoma State: 'Cats Look To Pull Huge Upset On ESPN

The clash between the Arizona Wildcats and Oklahoma State Cowboys that will take place Thursday evening is big for both teams. The odds may be against the Wildcats, but this is a team and program known to pull off an unexpected win or two when seemingly everyone doubted them. It will be tough, but anything can happen when Nick Foles is making plays happen down the field.

For the Cowboys, they're a team ranked in the top-10 looking to make a statement to the nation. A statement  showing the team is for real and is capable of competing for a BCS bowl game. They have all the momentum after dismantling Arizona in last year's Alamo Bowl and they're looking to add a solid win to their resumé. 

What To Watch For:

Arizona's Wide Receivers vs. Oklahoma State's Secondary:

Juron Criner is not playing, nor did he even make the trip to Stillwater because of an undisclosed medical condition. Jonny Thomas, the Cowboys' starting safety, is ineligible for the game (and the rest of the season). What does that mean? 

For the Cats, it will be interesting to see if anyone can step up with a big game in Criner's absence. Dan Buckner had a solid debut for UA last week, but a majority of his routes were for no more than a few yards. Gino Crump, a relatively unknown senior, has not played in many big games, but he impressed in week one and has drawn praise from his entire coaching staff. Austin Hill, a redshirt freshman, could step up, though his ability to block is pretty questionable at this point. Fan-favorite David Douglas could also fill in, though the senior has seen more time in the slot-position.

As for the Pokes, the unit did allow 212 passing yards to LA-Lafayette in the first game of the season, though a large amount of those yards came in garbage time. Still, though, allowing 34 points is a cause for concern and UA will present much more of a challenge.

The Arizona Secondary vs. Justin Blackmon:

If I'm coach Stoops, I double-cover Justin Blackmon on every day. We all saw first-hand what the nation's best receiver can do in the Alamo Bowl last season and it probably wasn't a good idea to try single-coverage on him. If Arizona hopes to win, they must at least slow down the wide receiver. Trevin Wade will start on him and he should receive a ton of help from Robert Golden and the other safeties. He is the ultimate priority for the defense.

If the other playmakers for the Cowboys come away with big yardage, so be it. The 'Cats will live with that. What they won't live for is another torching from the best receiver in the country.

How Do The Wildcats React?

60,000 screaming fans are expected at Boone Pickens Stadium for the primetime matchup. How does this Wildcats team -- a team with a ton of inexperience and youth defense, along with an offensive line that struggled in a home game last week -- react to the sellout crowd? It is essential for Foles, Wade, and the other seniors on the roster to do their very best to keep their teammates calm and collected before, during, and after the game.

Final Thoughts And Predictions:

This is going to be a tough game for Arizona. The odds are stacked against them and the Cowboys are looking to establish themselves on national television as one of the powers of college football this season. Nick Foles makes a few plays early on to keep the game close and interesting, but in the end, Oklahoma State's dynamic offense takes over and the Wildcats fall 45-21.

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Arizona Vs. Oklahoma State: Wildcat Juron Criner Will Not Play In Thursday’s Game

Arizona Wildcat Juron Criner will not play in Thursday's game against the No. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys, according to Anthony Gimino. Criner has been dealing with an undisclosed illness all week and was questionable for Thursday's game.

The loss of Criner, Arizona's best receiver, is a big one for the Wildcats. He made several big plays for the team last season, amassing 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns on 82 receptions last year. He was quarterback Nick Foles' favorite target last season and the two wrecked havoc on other teams all season through the air.

Criner spent the night at a local Tucson hospital earlier this week, according to Fox 11 Sports. He was initially expected to travel with the team to Oklahoma after missing practice on Monday and Tuesday, but this news indicates that his unknown illness could be more serious than initially perceived. He did not travel with the Wildcats on Wednesday.

Hopefully Criner's ailment gets healed in the near future and he's able to get back on track. It would be a shame to see a good athlete get derailed during his senior campaign in this way.

Arizona Desert Swarm explains how the team might cover for this loss:

Ill Juron Criner won't play at Oklahoma State, reports say - 
For the short term, this means guys like Dan Buckner will need to step up. Other receivers will have the opportunity to shine, and though it's Buckner with the most potential to do so, that doesn't mean someone else won't take advantage.  Sliding into the rotations could be Gino Crump and Austin Hill, who could compliment David Roberts, David Douglas, Richard Morrison and Buckner. 

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Arizona vs. Oklahoma State: Jaime Salazar Looking To Improve After Rough Debut

While no one was expecting greatness from junior college transfer Jaime Salazar this season, Wildcat fans at least hoped to see some improvement out of the kicking game in 2011. After one game, it was more of the same: botched snaps, missed field goals, and botched extra points.

Surely it has to end sometime, right?

Despite being replaced late in the Northern Arizona game for senior Alex Zendejas, who lost his job in camp after struggling the last two seasons, Salazar will be the starting place-kicker for the Wildcats on Thursday night as they battle the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

According to Salazar, it's just about staying calm and collected on the big stage. This is a player who has gone from playing in front of 500 fans to 50,000 fans in the span of about eight months, after all. And while it certainly isn't an excuse, it is time for the kicker to step up or become the backup one again.

"I can't let the environment, can't the stadium, get in my way," he said. "Can't let those 50,000 people get in my way. Can't let nothing get to me."

It will only get worse Thursday in front of 60,000 hostile fans at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.

"I just can't let it get in the way," he said talking about the charged atmosphere on Thursday. "If I do, it's going to mess up my kick. I just have to go in, knowing I am going to make it no matter what. It's not going to go left or right, it's just going to go in."

Sounds like a plan to me. Being a place-kicker at the high levels of football is just as every bit mentally demanding as it is physically demanding, and it is essential to block everything out while kicking in a big game. Zendejas was never able to do that, and he lost his job because of it. Will Salazar be able to? His first test comes Thursday night in front of the entire nation.

For more Wildcats coverage, check out Arizona Desert Swarm.

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