At 2-6, the Arizona Wildcats are likely playing for pride and to perhaps change the postseason fortunes of others in the conference. Tomorrow, Arizona takes on a Washington State team that is 5-0 in the Pac-12 and is tied with Washington on top of the North. What should Arizona fans look for in this game, and can the Wildcats pull off the upset?
Arizona Must Establish the Run
The run game has been the only highlight of the Wildcat offense. Their leading rusher is also their quarterback, Brandon Dawkins, who has 549 yards and eight touchdowns. Their top rushers are averaging 5.8 yards per carry (injured Nick Wilson) and 6.9 (Dawkins), respectively. They will need to control the clock against a Washington State team that is completing over 70 percent of its passes on offense and has scored 30 or more points in all but one of its games this season.
Washington State Must Avoid the Trap Game
The Cougars have a game against Washington in the final week of the season that will determine who plays in the conference title game, if they can run the table. With a tough stretch coming up including games against Cal and Colorado, it would be easy for Washington State to overlook a weaker opponent at home. Arizona can take advantage of this by starting fast and hoping that its defense can limit the big plays.
Can Arizona Get Its First Conference Win?
Arizona has not won a conference game yet in 2016, and has failed to hold any conference opponent to less than 34 points. If there is anything that the Wildcats can possibly use to motivate themselves, it is the fact that they played Washington tough early in the season, falling in overtime 35-28. Furthermore, it may be possible to get six wins and qualify for a bowl game if they win the rest of their games. That starts with an upset this weekend.
Arizona faces one of the biggest tests of the season in Washington State this weekend. If they can establish the run and control the clock, they have a chance. However, much to the chagrin of Wildcats fans, it is likely that the Cougars take care of business at home and keep marching toward a big game against Washington which will have big New Year’s Eve implications.