Arizona-Arizona State: Prediction time (Phoenix media loves the upset)by Anthony Gimino on Dec. 02, 2010, under Sports
The Arizona Republic had seven of its writers/media partners predict the score for the Arizona-Arizona State … and five went for the upset.
Yep, five of them are on record as picking the Sun Devils, a 5.5-point underdog to beat the Wildcats at Arizona Stadium.
Here is a sampling of opinion from up north (click on this link for all the predictions), and keep reading below for my take:
Dan Bickley, Arizona Republic columnist
Nothing makes sense about this rivalry. Sometimes the better team loses. That will be the case in 2010, as ASU surprises the Wildcats with team speed and a hot quarterback. Brock Osweiler looked a lot like Andrew Walter in a brilliant showing against UCLA, and appears to be seizing his latest opportunity. The Sun Devils are catching their rivals at the right time. ASU 31, Arizona 27
Paola Boivin, Arizona Republic columnist
This one has the makings of a down-to-the-wire heart-stopper. Brock Osweiler has added a bounce to ASU’s step but the Wildcats have a home crowd on their side. Hard to believe a Sun Devils’ win would give both teams the same conference record (4-5). How did that happen? Arizona 35, ASU 34
Doug Haller, Arizona Republic writer
Arizona has a tough task. Playing the top team in the country (Oregon) one week and your chief rival the next can’t be easy. Can the Wildcats’ match last week’s intensity? On the other side, Brock Osweiler’s performance against UCLA has revived ASU. The Sun Devils feel confident, knowing they have played well (the Cal trip excluded) on the road. The guess here is this contest comes down to a field goal. Thomas Weber has missed his share of big kicks this season. This time he delivers. ASU 23, Arizona 20
OK, so what do I think?
I have had a hard time this week convincing myself that Arizona is going to win this game, but it seems as if the Phoenix media is trying even harder the other way. Each of the seven media members cited Osweiler as a positive factor for Arizona State in this matchup.
Really? A sophomore making his second career start and first of the season? Osweiler looked sharp last week in relief of an injured Steven Threet, but, c’mon, he was throwing against UCLA.
For as leaky as Arizona’s defense has been in the past few weeks, it is still better than whatever the young Bruins are putting out on the field. And after facing Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Darron Thomas (and all those other super-speedy Ducks), I’m guessing the Wildcats aren’t living in fear of Brock Osweiler.
On the other hand, Arizona looks a bit whipped, physically and emotionally. The Cats are limping to the finish line.
“We’re beaten, a little down,” offensive tackle Adam Grant said Monday.
“You just have to get back up. I think the guys can do it. We’ve played three straight good teams and we have one more to go. But, hopefully, mentally, we’re there and we get the plays done that we need to get done. Hopefully, we came through and play for each other, because that’s what it’s about.”
It’s about finishing an acceptable 8-4, which is 100 times better than finishing at 7-5 record with a four-game losing streak and a sub-.500 conference record.
Anyway, bottom line …
I like the matchup for Arizona, because the ASU offense doesn’t have the power of Stanford or USC, or have the other-worldly skill of Oregon. This should be more like the Arizona defense from the first two-thirds of the season.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats offense is capable of moving the ball against anyone. Can it convert better in the red zone? That’s the question.
As far as motivation … if the Arizona team that showed up for the first half against the Ducks makes a 60-minute appearance, you can start planning those trips to the Alamo Bowl.
And, really, why wouldn’t that team show up?
Arizona 27, Arizona State 24.