Arizona begins the second half of the 2022 season playing somewhere it hasn’t won at since 2007.
The Wildcats (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12) have lost five straight the Washington (4-2, 1-2) including last year’s 21-16 home setback to the Huskies in which they lead 13-0. In Seattle, Arizona’s last five consecutive matchups.
Washington is a 14-point favorite, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Who will win this matchup? Here’s what our staff thinks:
Kim Doss — Washington wins 38-35
As of last week, the Huskies were ranked and had people talking about them. People are still talking, but not for good reasons.
The two straight losses, including one to an ASU team that went into last week’s matchup with a lone win against NAU, have taken the bloom off the rose. If the Wildcats had the advantage of getting UW at home, a third straight loss would be a real possibility.
While they average 41.0 points per game, the Huskies have only scored 40 or more points three times this season. One was against 2-4 Kent State. Another was against FCS opponent Portland State. The third was against Stanford, which is a bad football team. A lot of the scoring average load is being carried by a 52-6 defeat of Portland State.
While UW hasn’t been accomplishing a lot on the ground with just 141.2 rushing yards per game, Arizona’s run defense leaves enough to be desired that such things could change this week. The Wildcats give up an average of 228.8 rushing yards per game.
UW is nominally better than Arizona in most statistical categories, but nothing indicates that the Wildcats shouldn’t be in this game. Nothing except the line, that is.
Ezra Amacher — Washington wins 38-27
Arizona’s defense hasn’t shown it can stop dynamic quarterbacks this season, and Michael Penix Jr. will be the most difficult QB the Wildcats have faced yet. Penix has 2,044 passing yards, second-most in the country, and is highly motivated coming off a pair of bad losses. Penix will assuredly pass for at least 300 yards. Whether Arizona can stop Washington’s less effective run game will determine whether the UA is in this game by the fourth quarter.
On the other side of the ball, Jayden de Laura is coming off his worst performance as a Wildcat. He needs to be more disciplined in his decision making, and I’m afraid a rowdy road crowd won’t be the environment for him to correct his mistakes.
Speaking of which, I’m not totally buying that the Mariners’ home playoff game will dampen the energy at Husky Stadium. This is a homecoming game, after all, and UW desperately needs a win to get its season back on track. Huskies win by double digits.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 42-34
The more I think about this game, the more things seem to be trending in Arizona’s favor.
While it is a road tilt and Washington’s homecoming game, you have to figure the Seattle Mariners playing at the same time will take some of the focus, energy and fans away from college football. Add in that the last couple weeks have shown the Huskies to be paper tigers, so to speak, and the emotional confidence may also be a bit drained, too.
Further, Washington wants to throw the football. Chances are they will have success against Arizona if they choose to run it, but will the conference’s top passing attack settle for a less-dynamic game plan?
In many ways Arizona is like a poor man’s Washington, though perhaps with a bit more of an edge heading into this one. The Cats know they should have beaten the Huskies last season and a fast start offensively could be just what they need to pull off the feat this year.
Finally, if Jayden de Laura and Arizona’s every-other-game patterns hold true, the Cats will defeat the dogs. Yeah, let’s go with that
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 41-38
I’m going away from my original prediction during fall camp. I believe Arizona can pull this one out.
Now, Arizona’s defense is....less than stellar. Honestly, UDub has issues as well. Their pass defense is nowhere near where it used to be. The Huskies have struggled this year at stopping the pass, and that is Arizona’s bread and butter. For reference, Arizona has the second best passing offense in yards per game in the conference, while UDub has the seventh ranked pass defense in yards per game allowed.
The real test for Arizona is going to be Washington’s run game. The Huskies have the seventh ranked rushing attack in the Pac-12, however, Arizona’s run defense is sitting at eleventh.
Now, this isn’t Oregon either. Yes...Seattle is a tough environment and, historically, UDub is a good team. That is still the case, but I don’t think it’s anything Arizona can’t overcome. This will be a shootout and I think Arizona will come out on top by a field goal.
It is worth noting that the Mariners are playing a playoff game around 90 minutes before kickoff too. So the crowd MIGHT be smaller than usual.
Brian J. Pedersen — Washington wins 44-38
This game has shootout written all over it, which is probably the only way Arizona is going to beat any decent teams right now with how its defense is playing. But as potent as the Wildcats have been on offense, Washington is just as prolific and less mistaken-prone.
Arizona cannot win if it turns the ball over, and as much as Jedd Fisch said he doesn’t want the offense to feel pressured to score every time that impetus is there. All it will take is one mistake to turn things on its side.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.