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Arizona vs. Washington State: A first look at the Cougars

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What will the Wildcats face in Pullman this week?

NCAA Football: Washington State at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After Saturday night’s loss to the Stanford Cardinal, the Arizona Wildcats will travel to Pullman to take on the Washington State Cougars this week. The Cougars are coming off a nail-biting win at Oregon State that has extended their winning streak to six games. They will look to keep it rolling against UA.

WSU 2016 Record – 6-2 (5-0 Pac-12)

Key Games – Week one loss vs. Eastern Washington (45-42), Week two loss at Boise State (31-28), Week five win vs. Oregon (51-33), Week six win at Stanford (42-16), Week eight win at ASU (37-32)

Key Offensive Players – Luke Falk (QB), River Cracraft (WR), Gabe Marks (WR), Jamal Morrow (RB), Riley Sorenson (Center), Cole Madison (OT)

Key Defensive Players – Hercules Mata’afa (DE), Peyton Pelluer (LB), Shalom Luani (FS), Parker Henry (CB)

Washington State is one of the hottest teams in the country right now and it’s amazing how Mike Leach has been able to rally his team after the start they had. The Cougars started the year 0-2, which includes a horrendous loss in the season-opener against FCS opponent Eastern Washington. The Cougs have since won six-straight games and became bowl eligible Saturday night.

We saw a very similar situation last season when the Cougars lost to an FCS school at home to open the season. They went on to win nine of their next 12 games and finished with a 6-3 Pac-12 record. The regular season ended with an ugly loss in the Apple Cup to their rival Washington. This season, that rematch could decide the North and very possibly the Pac-12 champion.

An interesting fact about the Cougars/Wildcats series is the road team has won the last three games. You probably remember last season’s exciting 45-42 WSU win in Tucson. Well, the Cougars’ offense will look almost identical to that. Luke Falk is having another stat-stuffing season which results in River Cracraft and Gabe Marks as the beneficiaries.

The defense will give up points, but it can be dangerous if the game turns into a shoot out. The Wildcats are not currently equipped to handle that style of play. This would be the best case scenario for WSU, and honestly, it’s also the most likely scenario.

It was great to see Brandon Dawkins behind center again, and it was a positive sign that Anu Solomon finally dressed. Solomon even saw some limited action, but his rust is awfully apparent. The good news is these two are back and the Stanford game is over. Rich Rodriguez now has a week to get the offense ready for an average WSU defense.

As for the defense, their biggest hope is that the offense will be able to register some extended drives and score some points. Saturday will be a daunting task for this Arizona defense as the Cougars’ have one of the most potent offenses in the FBS. Luke Falk must be licking his chops thinking about this matchup.