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Staff predictions for Arizona football against Stanford

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Mike Christy | The Daily Wildcat Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Jamarye Joiner (10) roars after his wide open touchdown during the Arizona Wildcats vs. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors college football game 8/24/19 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI. Photo by Mike Christy / Arizona Athletics

Arizona football hits the road for the second week in a row and travels to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on Stanford. The Wildcats are 4-3 on the season after two consecutive losses. Beat reporters Jack Cooper, Amit Syal and Austin Wales predict what will go down at Stanford on Saturday afternoon.

Jack Cooper:

It’s do-or-die time for Arizona football (4-3, 2-2) if they hope to get to a bowl game this year. The Wildcats are traveling up to Palo Alto to face off against the Stanford Cardinal, (3-4, 2-2). Stanford is having a disappointing season, but they beat Washington two weeks ago but then lost to UCLA at home last week. This game could go two ways and it all depends on who the starting quarterbacks are for each team. K.J. Costello has been out with a thumb injury for Stanford and their backup Davis Mills has been out with a calf issue, which means third-string Jack West has been playing. Fortunately for the Cardinal, both Costello and Mills are questionable for this weekend which means we could see one or both of them.

The last two weeks, Arizona has been dealing with some quarterback controversy as well. Despite Kevin Sumlin saying there isn’t any and that Khalil Tate is the starter, you really have to wonder how long they can stick with Tate if he continues to play the way he has been the last two weeks. Grant Gunnell got some playing time against both Washington and USC, and was able to drive down the field late in both games and get a couple touchdowns when the game was already out of hand. If Sumlin is serious about not using Gunnell’s redshirt, then the true freshman should be starting every game since he is a better passer than Tate and has looked more comfortable in the pocket.

I expect this to be a very low-scoring game with both offenses continuing to struggle. If Stanford gets either of their two quarterbacks back, then they should win this game comfortably.

Prediction: Arizona 20 Stanford 31

Amit Syal:

After dropping its past two games, Arizona football absolutely needs this road win against Stanford to keep its season alive. With only five games left in the season, Arizona stands at 4-3 and fourth in the Pac-12 South division. The big question going into this game is who to start at quarterback. Despite the big discussions going on, Head Coach Kevin Sumlin has been adamant that senior Khalil Tate will continue to start for Arizona as long as he is healthy. True freshman quarterback Grant Gunnell has been playing well for the Wildcats. Last weekend on the road at the Coliseum, Gunnell threw for almost 200 yards and two touchdowns, despite throwing an interception the first play after being subbed in for Tate.

On the other side of the coin, the Stanford Cardinal offense has been decimated with injuries, most notably in the quarterback position. Both KJ Costello (thumb) and Davis Mills (calf) are questionable for Saturday’s game, and third-string quarterback Jack West has been seeing some action for Stanford. The redshirt freshman from Alabama made his first career start against the UCLA Bruins after coming off a bye week where he threw for 143 yards on 15-for-32 completions. Stanford was the favorite going into its game against the Bruins at home, but UCLA came out on top by a final score of 34-16.

Arizona football doesn’t seem to have the same spark that it had early on in the season, and this can be attributed to Tate’s lack of performance on the field. So the Wildcats will be handed their third consecutive loss and move to 4-4 (.500) on the season after Saturday afternoon.

Prediction: Arizona 24 Stanford 35

Austin Wales:

After a tough loss to USC last week in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Arizona looks to bounce back against the Stanford Cardinal. Arizona hits the road for the second week in a row to Palo Alto to take on the Cardinal, who have been up and down this season. 

Stanford in past years typically is one of the better teams in the Pac-12 North; however, that hasn’t been the case this year, as they sit at third in the North, with losses to UCLA, Oregon and USC. Their win over Washington in week six was very surprising, and Washington struggled to move the ball other than the first drive of the game. Injuries have hindered the Cardinal this season, as quarterback KJ Costello is listed as questionable this weekend. 

Arizona’s quarterback situation isn’t much better, as Khalil Tate struggled mightily against a USC team that was without eight defensive starters last weekend. Tate’s fit into offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s offense isn’t the greatest since Tate isn’t a passing quarterback.

But despite controversy over who should start this next weekend, Head Coach Kevin Sumlin put that to rest at his presser this week when he said, “There’s no quarterback controversy. We know where we are right now ... and, yeah, Khalil will start for us next week.”

One of the biggest keys for Arizona this week is going to be on the defensive half, as Stanford likes to run the ball a lot, with jumbo sets, as well as off-set I-formation and I-formation. Who Stanford goes with at the quarterback position will be another thing, as Costello is one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12. He is known to have so much poise in the pocket and is able to go through his progressions well. Costello, who stands at 6 feett, 5 inches, definitely has the intangibles for a NFL-level quarterback, and he threw for over 3500 yards last season, yet he has only played in three games this season. 

Stanford is a scary team coming off a loss, especially to a team like UCLA, and Arizona still hasn’t found its rhythm offensively after being blown out the last two weekends. This game is also in Palo Alto, so Arizona’s bowl game hopes are starting to dwindle after their loss to the Cardinal this week.

Prediction: Arizona 14 Stanford 31


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