The Arizona Wildcats open their last Pac-12 home slate with possibly the toughest game left on the schedule, as the 7th-ranked Washington Huskies are coming to Tucson.
Washington (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) has won six in a row over the UA, including a 49-39 victory in Seattle last season, and three straight at Arizona Stadium. Arizona (3-1, 1-0) has won three in a row overall at home for the first time since 2019
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Arizona is a 19.5-point underdog. Who takes this matchup? Here’s what our staff thinks.
Kim Doss — Washington wins 45-31
Washington has all of the offensive weapons it needs to comfortably win this game. How comfortably could depend on who is available for Arizona and if the Wildcats can keep their own mistakes to a minimum. It would be foolish to expect anything other than a UW win with a talented sixth-year QB and his dominant core of receivers running the show, though.
The Huskies have dominated every opponent so far this year. Those opponents are currently 8-8 primarily against pedestrian schedules outside their dates with UW. It’s enough to give Arizona hope of at least keeping this one closer than Vegas thinks it will be.
That said, Arizona has only scored over 31 points once this year—in its season opener against NAU. In both games against major conference opponents, the Wildcats have been fortunate to scrape together a point total in the low 20s. They may be improving, but expecting them to take a huge step forward against the Huskies is asking a lot. Too much, in all likelihood.
Ezra Amacher — Washington wins 48-24
Arizona will face several great quarterbacks in the next two months, but none are as lethal through the air as Michael Penix Jr. As Brandon pointed out, Penix is putting up absurd numbers through four games. Penix’s average completion is going for 12 yards! I don’t see any scenario where Arizona’s defense contains Penix to under 300 yards passing. Arizona’s best chance at flipping the game will be forcing Penix to throw an interception or two, but so far this the Wildcats have produced zero INTs.
Outside of the scoreboard, the most intriguing part of this game will be how Fifita looks at quarterback, assuming he starts. Fifita is a much needed stabilizing force to the Arizona offense compared to Jayden de Laura’s frenetic decision making. I hope he executes enough plays to make Jedd Fisch seriously consider using him as QB1 the rest of the season.
Brandon Combs — Washington wins 49-35
Even though this is a home contest, this game will be one of the major challenges faced by Arizona all season. Washington has an elite offense, no question. Michael Penix Jr. is a next-level QB who spreads the ball out to a wide range of dangerous receivers: Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, and Ja’Lynn Polk to name a few. On top of that, Penix is averaging 4 touchdown passes a game and has just under 1,700 yards through 4 games. Those are insane numbers. The offensive line has only allowed 1 sack against Penix on 138 pass attempts.
The Achilles’ heel to the Huskies’ high-powered offense is their running game, which only averages 4.8 yards per carry on 104 carries. This is definitely where Arizona’s defense can shine. The Wildcats have allowed just 2.7 yards per carry on 140 carries. They’ve also allowed only 95 rushing yards per game and only 3 touchdowns. If you look at the pass defense and other defensive stats, they are good. But this UDub offense is a different beast.
The key will be to get to Penix and throw off his game and force him to make mistakes. If Arizona gives him too much time in the pocket he’ll pick them apart. I will say, I’m interested to see Arizona’s big, athletic corners (Tacario Davis and Ephesians Prysock) go against UDub’s receivers. They haven’t played anyone like these two so it’ll be interesting to see how they respond.
Overall I think the ‘Cats do not get enough pressure on Penix, causing him to do what he does....score points, put up big numbers, and win.
Adam Green — Washington wins 38-20
Had Arizona entered this game healthy, I’d feel better about their chances.
Had Arizona entered this game with their offense firing on all cylinders, I’d feel better about their chances.
That the Cats can’t lay claim to either makes this a worrisome matchup because, let’s be honest, Washington is the better team. Now, the Huskies of seasons past have struggled to win in the state of Arizona, and the last two times they’ve matched up with the Wildcats the game could have gone either way.
But while Arizona’s defense looks more ready to at least offer some resistance to one one of the best offenses in football, it’s fair to wonder if the Cats’ offense — especially when we don’t even know who the QB is going to be — will do enough to make it count.
So the guess here is Arizona is moderately competitive, but not nearly good enough to make it interesting in the end.
Devin Homer — Washington wins 42-17
This will be a tough test for Arizona with No. 7 Washington coming into town. With Noah Fifita most likely going to make his first career start it will be a big test to keep up with the Huskies offense. The Huskies have the number one offense in the Pac-12 this season averaging 467.3 through the air.
UA’s defense has been improved this season but have not faced anything like Washington’s passing offense yet. Washington’s big play capabilities will be too much for Arizona.
Brian J. Pedersen — Washington wins 45-28
We’re going with the assumption that Noah Fifita makes his first career start, which could improve Arizona’s chances of pulling an upset because Washington doesn’t know much about him. But it doesn’t change the fact that the Huskies’ offense is unlike anything the UA has seen this season, and while the defense has looked much improved some regression is due.
That’ll happen in this game, where Washington’s big play ability will be too much for the defense to hang with. Combine that with Arizona feeling the pressure to score on every drive just to keep up and it will fall behind and not be able to catch up.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.