The teams are country cousins in a cosmopolitan conference, as different in outward appearances as a saguaro and a fir tree.
One has built its reputation with the run, the other by passing. One recruits against powerhouse programs, while the other selects players like oddly shaped puzzle pieces.
Their coaches are fire and ice - one hardened by years at the college level, the other the embodiment of NFL-bred cool.
Arizona and Oregon State are similar only in their differences - and their goals.
The ninth-ranked Arizona Wildcats will try to improve on their best start in 12 years when they host OSU tonight at Arizona Stadium.
The Beavers (2-2, 1-0) played - and lost to - powerhouses TCU and Boise State during a hellish first month of the season.
Arizona won't intimidate them.
"We keep preaching to our players, 'We're going into this one with our eyes fully open,'" said Greg Brown, Arizona's co-defensive coordinator. "Not only do these guys have talent at the skill positions, which is obvious - look at the numbers they've racked up. But their schemes? Schematically, what they're capable of doing to you, it's a scary deal."
A month into the 2010 season, Arizona's sick of being scared. The Wildcats needed fourth-quarter rallies to defeat Iowa and Cal.
Both times, quarterback Nick Foles drove the team to victory; he hit wide receiver Bug Wright to defeat the Hawkeyes, then found Juron Criner on the way to a 10-9 win over the Golden Bears.
Foles said he would rather avoid another high-wire act, especially since so much can go wrong in the final few minutes.
"You don't want to do that every week," he said. "Your luck's going to run out, and the other team's going to execute."
Oregon State probably won't let the UA off that easy. Despite ranking 59th nationally in total offense and 96th in total defense, the Beavers have enough talent to make a run at a conference title.
In that regard, Arizona and Oregon State are more similar than different.
OSU tailback Jacquizz Rodgers and his brother, wide receiver James Rodgers, have combined for 585 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns through four games. Quarterback Ryan Katz has thrown for 720 yards and six scores in his first year as the team's starter.
Despite playing the nation's No. 1 and No. 3-ranked defenses - Arizona, tonight's opponent, is ranked No. 2 - the Beavers have yet to turn the ball over this season. Defensive tackle Stephen Paea anchors an Oregon State defense that's allowed 30.8 points per game.
"I think the theme of this game - it's a good example of our lives in general - is that as a football team we have to get better to win," Beavers coach Mike Riley said.
Arizona (4-0, 1-0) will need to neutralize Paea in order to jump-start its sagging rushing attack. If that doesn't work, the Wildcats will take to the air.
Foles is second in the Pac-10 with 272.2 passing yards per game. His 74.5percent completion rate is easily best in the conference; no other quarterback has more than a 66 percent clip.
The biggest game of Arizona's young season will come down to stopping the run and establishing the pass. If Arizona can do that, it'll keep its improbable start going while slowing down a program that's become its polar opposite - and most interesting rival.
"We've always got good athletes. They've always got good athletes," Wright said. "They've got playmakers, we've got playmakers. We're fast, they're fast.
"We're a lot alike."
On StarNet: Catch quarter-by-quarter Oregon State-UA updates from Arizona Stadium and read the game story after it ends at: azstarnet.com
• What: Oregon State at Arizona
• When: 4 p.m. on Versus
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)
For the second time this season and third time in five games, the Arizona Wildcats will play in front of a sellout home crowd.
UA officials ran out of tickets for today's game against Oregon State on Thursday afternoon, senior associate athletic director James Francis said. The Beavers could possibly return a handful of unused tickets this morning; if that happens, they would be available at 11 a.m. at the stadium ticket office.