Simply put, the Huskies are going to give up yards and points to Arizona and quarterback Nick Foles. But the Arizona defense will give up more.
Neither defense is good, it's a matter of which one will be worse. In the paper, I had the score being 42-31, but with the weather looking like it won't be a factor after all, I'm amending my pick to a little. So the Huskies will cover the four point spread.
Four things I think will happen ...
1. Nick Foles will throw at least 50 times. Yes, Arizona ran the ball more last week, but the Huskies have been decent stopping the run against team's not named Stanford. That will force Foles to throw more. I don't know if that's a good thing.
2. Keith Price will throw for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns. Arizona's secondary with Shaquille Richardson and Jourdon Grandon was in good. With those two suspended for the game, it's flat terrible. Price should also have plenty of time to throw. Arizona isn't great at getting to the quarterback.
3. The Huskies will give up at least two long plays to Juron Criner. Washington ran a lot of nickel looks this week and practice and used Quinton Richardson as the extra DB. Presumably they want him in there for his size. It will be interesting to see how he plays.
4. Chris Polk will go over 100 yards against Arizona. It's what he does. Sarkisian will want to take advantage of the Arizona secondary, but he won't forgo his balanced attack. Plus they are best when Polk gets 25 touches per game.
ARIZONA (2-5, 1-4 PACIFIC-12 CONFERENCE) AT WASHINGTON (5-1, 3-0 PAC-12)7:30 p.m., Husky Stadium
TV: Root Sports. Radio: 950-AM, 850-AM.
The series: The Huskies lead the series, 17-9-1, but Arizona has won three of the past four. Arizona crushed the Huskies, 44-14, last year with backup QB Matt Scott starting. Two years ago at Husky Stadium, the Huskies rallied for a 36-33 win thanks to an interception that bounced off the foot of a receiver Delashaun Dean and into the arms of Mason Foster, who returned it for a touchdown.
What to watch: It will be two good offenses taking on two not-so-good defenses. Shootout? Yep, not even the predicted cold will keep these teams from moving the ball or scoring points. Arizona appears to be a different team mentally under interim coach Tim Kish. The Wildcats played loose and free in a trouncing of UCLA last week. Quarterback Nick Foles leads the Pac-12 in yards passing per game at 363, and he has solid receivers in Juron Criner and Dan Buckner. Washington’s pass defense had been ranked last in the Pac-12 almost the entire season, just recently ascending to 11th. The Huskies struggled against Eastern Washington and Hawaii. Arizona’s passing attack might be even better. But what makes things more difficult is the recent return of Arizona’s run game – the Wildcats rushed for 254 yards against UCLA. But while Arizona will likely be putting up points, the Huskies will almost certainly be matching the Wildcats and maybe scoring more. Arizona comes into the game with the worst pass defense in the Pac-12, and 10th worst rushing defense. The Wildcats will also be without starting cornerback Shaquille Richardson and nickel back Jourdon Grandon (both suspended). That should give UW quarterback Keith Price plenty of options. The Huskies will also have tailback Chris Polk ready to counter. Polk was the one player who didn’t seem overwhelmed last week against Stanford. It comes down to which defense can slow, not stop, the other team’s offense the best.
What’s at stake: Neither team is going to compete for a division title. Washington will be bowl eligible with a win. But the Huskies have higher aspirations than six wins. Arizona can still become bowl eligible, and a win over Washington would go along way.