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Washington vs. Arizona game predictions

Can the Wildcats pull the upset?

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time this year, both the Arizona Wildcats and Washington Huskies will be facing decent competition when the two meet in Tucson on Saturday night.

After a unanimous selection of Arizona over Hawai’i from our staff last week, here’s a look at how our prediction standings are doing now:

As has been mentioned several times this week, Rich Rodriguez seems to pull a top-ten upset each year. The Cats probably only get two shots at it this year, and this is the first, since Washington is ranked 9th in both major polls.

So, who’s brave enough to pick the upset? We give our picks below, and you can submit your pick here:

Gabe Encinas: Arizona just hasn’t been able to perform in big games with the exception of ASU in 2014 and Utah in 2015. It seems as if anytime there is any sort of hype around a game, Arizona has struggled and been embarrassed. The more I think about this week, the more I feel like this is going to end up being like the UCLA game from last season.

While I’m not buying the fact that Washington is a top-ten team in the nation, heavily inflated with hype in ridiculous preseason rankings, they are a great team that is still probably the second best team in the conference behind Stanford.

Yes, Rich Rodriguez has defeated a top-ten team in each of his first four years at Arizona and Washington hasn’t won in the state of Arizona for years. But I just don’t see this one coming out in favor of the Wildcats. Even with full health, I just don’t get the same feeling like I did last year when Arizona played Utah. However, it should be noted that the staff has been keeping a lot saved up for Pac-12 play, so maybe that just throws off everything for Washington.

Washington 48 Arizona 20

Steve Apter: Arizona has allowed 77 first downs, a 53% conversion rate on third down, and opponents are converting 91% of their red zone opportunities. These are all marks that put the Wildcats worse than 100th among FBS teams. Washington has won six games in a row and scored 40 or more points in each of those contests.

Washington is rolling and while Arizona might not be reeling (yet), they lack the continuity to be competitive on Saturday with UW. Arizona has little rhythm on offense and one of the nation's worst defenses. Washington might not be the eighth-best team in the country when it's all said and done, but they're two touchdowns better than Arizona at the moment.

Washington 38 Arizona 20

Mike C. Paulus: Last season, the Huskies beat the Wildcats 49-3 in Seattle. Unfortunately, Washington’s roster is better than it was and Arizona’s is worse. Logically, we can assume this year’s game will be a bigger blow out. But, Washington is 2-3 in their last five road games. Of course, these games were all played last year. Washington is untested on the road this season and has proven to struggle some when away from home. Their last five road games, Washington has averaged 22.6 points on offense and give up 18.6 points defensively. Their last five home games they've averaged 43.2 points on offense and have given up 12.6 points defensively.

The result: this game will be more competitive than it should be, but still an Arizona loss.

Washington 32 - Arizona 24

Alec Sills-Trausch: I wish this were one of those cases where either Brandon Dawkins would have to excel both in the air and on the ground or the defense would need to lock up - allowing some breathing room for one of them. However, against Washington, both sides will need to excel in order for the ‘Cats to beat the Dawgs (err Huskies).

Though U-Dub hasn’t been tested at all this season - partly due to scheduling cupcakes - they’ve taken care of business in a way that Power Five teams should. Arizona, on the other hand, has looked stagnant on offense on many occasions, and their tackling has left much to be desired. I give the edge to Washington 70% to 30%….though anything can happen when it’s #Pac12AfterDark...and because RichRod always gets a top-ten victory and I don’t think it’s going to be against Stanford (though that’d be an awesome homecoming).

Washington 42 - Arizona 34

James Schlittenhart: There’s a particular “feel” that surrounds an impending upset. Somehow, someway, you’re made aware of a tangible, underlying current of unpredictability, anticipation, electricity. Arizona is no stranger to this; last year’s upset of the No. 10 Utah Utes, 2014’s win over the No. 2 Oregon Ducks in Eugene and 2013’s home win over the same, and 2012’s win over the No. 10 USC Trojans were all perfect examples of times when you just had a hunch that Arizona had a good chance to do something wild.

This is not one of those times. Rich Rod’s four year streak of beating a top-ten team will have to wait until the matchup with Stanford.

Washington - 45 Arizona - 20

Drake Horner: Every year, Rich Rodriguez pulls off an upset against a top-ten team. Arizona has lost two key players on defense in Parker Zellers and DeAndre’ Miller, but gains Tellas Jones. Arizona will be the best team Washington has played by far, and if they can put pressure on Browning and make him make some uncharacteristic mistakes, I think they have a chance. Losing Miller won’t help the pass rush, but gaining Jones will help. I think Marcel Yates has a few cards up his sleeve as well.

Since Anu Solomon is questionable, it’s likely we see Dawkins running the offense and Washington’s run defense is stout. If the offensive line plays like it did in the first three games, it’s in some trouble. But with Washington being largely unchallenged to date, and Stanford coming up next week, it could be a trap game.

It just feels like the prototypical Rich Rodriguez upset where Arizona has no business winning the game, yet it somehow finds a way too. I’m gonna say the Wildcats’ offense does just enough to get it done with the help of a couple turnovers from the defense.

Arizona 31- Washington 28

David Stevenson: This week there was a great Wildcat Radio podcast that noted the Washington “Desert Dawgs” have not won in Tucson for 10 years. Every year there always seems to be a UA upset against a highly-ranked opponent that coincides with a late kickoff time in the Old Pueblo. The conditions are ripe for for an Arizona upset, but the talent disparity is too wide between the schools for a “Pac-12 After Dark” shocker.

Washington 37 Arizona 10

Brandon Combs: Washington is good. They are fast. They have playmakers on both sides of the ball. I will say they really haven't looked overly impressive so far this year, however, this is conference play. It is a different monster. I believe Arizona will have a few big plays against the stout Husky defense. But Arizona’s defense has to be on point, tackle better, and force three-and-outs to keep themselves in this game. I think they'll do a decent job but maybe not enough.

Washington: 31 Arizona: 24

Ryan Kelapire: This is a tough game to predict, mainly because I think the talent discrepancy between Arizona and Washington is pretty significant in favor of the Huskies. Yet, the Wildcats are at home and, for whatever reason, have shown the ability to take down top-ten opponents in the Rich Rodriguez era.

That said, I don’t think Arizona will win this game, but I do think it’ll be competitive.

Washington 38, Arizona 20

Jason Bartel: I think Arizona keeps this game close for the majority of the 60 minutes. However, Washington will wear out the defense, and score two late touchdowns to make the final score look worse than the game actually was.

Washington 41, Arizona 24