Another week of Arizona football is here which means another week of Staff Picks. Here are some predictions from our sports staff of this weekend’s road game against Washington on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m. MST.
Jacob Mennuti - Win (Arizona-27, Washington-23)
My prediction is based solely off of one thing. If the Wildcats can stop the run, they will win this game. If they don’t, Arizona has no shot at this one. The Wildcats did a solid job of stopping the run against USC last Saturday and the emergence of Aaron Blackwell and Roy Lopez on the interior defensive line makes me very hopeful for this game.
The stats may not look like it was a successful night at plugging the ground but a chunk of those rushing yards came in the second half after the Wildcats suffered an injury to safety Jaxen Turner and a few other key players on defense. Head coach Kevin Sumlin indicated after the game that the change in personnel played a big role in the inability to stop the run game late as well as on the final drive where the Wildcats surrendered the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies are trotting out its freshman quarterback, Dylan Morris, who didn’t have to do much last week in his debut since the run game was so dominant against Oregon State. If Arizona can stop the run and force the inexperienced Morris to throw the ball as many times as possible, I think the Wildcats have a good shot at this one.
Ari Koslow - Loss (Arizona-24, Washington-27)
One might think of Seattle and automatically think of rain, but the one day that it currently isn't expected to rain is this Saturday when the two teams will face off. The identity of this Huskies team is a dominant rushing attack and defense. Washington ran all over the Beavers last week, running for over 267 yards led by Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant. They will look to continue to run all over the Wildcats’ defense this week.
On the other hand, the Washington run defense proved to be vulnerable against Oregon State allowing 133 rushing yards to Jermar Jefferson. It will be important for the Wildcats to get Gary Brightwell going early on.
Overall, I don't see this being a blowout. There are still some question marks under center for Washington. Arizona will need to continue to put pressure on the quarterback as they did relatively well last week against USC. I believe this will be a tight game throughout, but Washington will pull away in the end.
C.J. Lala - Loss (Arizona-21, Washington-24)
The Huskies also had their week one matchup canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests. In their first game of the season, Washington defeated Oregon State 27-21 as starting quarterback Dylan Morris made his first start of his career after redshirting his freshman year. Morris completed 14 of 24 passes for 141 yards, he also rushed four times for 21 yards and a touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui is a name to know after he had two sacks and two forced fumbles against Oregon State. For Arizona, they are coming off a 34-30 loss vs. USC while the Wildcats showed promising signs during their first game. Most importantly, Grant Gunnell looked like the quarterback we all hoped he would be as he completed 24 of 36 passes for 286 yards, three touchdowns and one interception while also rushing 13 times for 66 yards. Outside of the interception that happened on the first drive of the game, Gunnell was dialed in and in complete control of the offense. However the defense was an issue as they were unable to get any pressure on USC’s quarterback, which was to be expected with the amount of losses they had this season.
With the game being in Seattle and the strength of their defense, I think the Huskies have the edge and I am taking Washington to win a close game 24-21.
Ryan Wohl - Win (Arizona 31, Washington 27)
In the Wildcats first game against the USC Trojans, they put on an all-around excellent performance but still fell short. Coming into the season, I didn’t know if this defense was capable of making stops in the red zone, putting pressure on the quarterback and cornerbacks being physical with opposing wide receivers. But in their first game, they proved me wrong and more. Grant Gunnell showed a ton of signs that he can not only be an elite QB but be a great leader of this young Wildcat offense.
Washington had a strong showing in their game last week against Oregon State but they are considered by many as a bottom Pac-12 team and their defense looked shaky in their first game. The Huskies have a great running attack, as their team totaled 267 rushing yards split between nine players. I believe that Arizona will have trouble stopping that this upcoming week but showed against USC that they have a capable defensive line.
I believe that the line is way too high (Washington -11.5), and after the Wildcats impressive showing last week, this has upset written all over it. USC is a better team than Washington and I think that Arizona will win this game outright.
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