Week 9: Arizona at Washington State

Arizona (5-1) at Washington State (2-5) Oct. 25, 6:00, Pac-12 Network 

Here’s The Deal: Arizona and Washington State exit their bye weeks looking to capture a tailwind that can be carried throughout the second half of the season. The 15th-ranked Wildcats, the only team to defeat Pac-12 frontrunner Oregon, will be looking to rebound from their first loss of the season, 28-26 to USC. The ‘Cats have lived dangerously all season, with its last five games decided by no more than a touchdown. Wazzu is quickly running out of time in its quest for a repeat bowl berth. The Cougs have lost the last two to Cal and Stanford after challenging Oregon and shocking Utah at the end of September. 

Why Arizona Might Win: The feast-or-famine Cougar D will starve this weekend. Wazzu will throw a lot of unique blitzes at opponents, but Rich Rodriguez has had two weeks to prepare. And rookie QB Anu Solomon has steadily improved with more reps this fall. The Wildcats are balanced, ranking no lower than fourth in Pac-12 rushing or passing, and backs Nick Wilson and Terris Jones-Grigsby and receivers Cayleb Jones and Austin Hill are all proven playmakers. 

Why Washington State Might Win: The Cougs have already shown they can compete effectively with some of the better Pac-12 teams behind Connor Halliday’s passing and a disruptive defense. Washington State leads the nation in passing at 490 yards a game, spreading the ball to 50-catch receivers Vince Mayle, River Cracraft and Isiah Myers. Over the last four games, a beatable Arizona secondary has yielded 10 touchdown passes, while picking off just a pair. 

Who To Watch Out For: Can either of these teams generate the takeaways needed to tip the advantage in its direction? Arizona and Washington State both rank in the bottom half of the Pac-12, with the Cougars occupying the basement. The ‘Cats are hoping to unleash LB Scooby Wright, one of the league’s top all-around defenders, to both pressure Halliday and jump some of his intermediate throws. 

What’s Going To Happen: Arizona has learned how to win close games, which will come in handy this week on the Palouse. The ‘Cats are the more complete team, but Washington State can be feisty when Halliday is slinging the ball all over the field. The teams will jockey back and forth until Arizona finally pulls away in the final quarter. 

Prediction: Arizona 37 … Washington State 30 
Line: Arizona -2.5 o/u: 71.5 
Must Watch Factor: 5: Dumb and Dumber To – 1: Manhattan Love Story … 2.5