Arizona (6-3) takes on Washington State (4-5) in Arizona Stadium Saturday afternoon.
This game is big for the Wildcats, who have Oregon coming to town next week before heading north to Tempe to take on Arizona State to close out the regular season.
So how do the Wildcats get it done? Here's this week's three keys to victory:
1. Bounding around the field
Washington State's best defensive player is safety Deone Bucannon, so keeping him out of as many plays as possible surely has to be on the mind of RichRod and the other offensive coaches. Also, WSU runs mostly a 3-4 defense, which could allow for the O-line to open up some serious gaps for both Ka'Deem Carey and B.J. Denker. It may be hard to grasp this, but Denker is currently 7th in the Pac-12 in rushing yards, and has outgained all of Washington State 645 to 469 this year.
2. Clawing through the trenches
Getting pressure on WSU QB Connor Halliday will be crucial to the success of the entire defense. Not only getting pressure from the D-line, but various blitz packages involving Scooby Wright, Marquis Flowers, and even the safeties need to be effective and force Halliday to hurry his throws more often than not.
3. Pouncing on opportunities
I expect the secondary to have several opportunities to intercept passes this week. These chances need to be taken advantage of. Last week against UCLA, a big opportunity was there for the Arizona defense to recover a fumble and get off the field, but it was missed. And, Ka'Deem fumbled going into the endzone on a run which would have put the Cats right back in the game. No takeaways can be left on the field, and redzone visits by the offense need to be converted this week to ensure an Arizona win.