The oddsmakers like Arizona by about a touchdown against Washington; I see this one as more of a 50-50 toss-up.
The Wildcats have lost three consecutive games, unable to make a key play late in games vs. Oregon State and Stanford. The Huskies have dropped two in a row, with Keith Price — thought in the preseason to be a next in line behind USC’s Matt Barkley as the Pac-12′s best quarterback — unable to gain traction.
Behind an injured line, Price has been hounded and hit hard. He has yet to throw for 200 yards in a Pac-12 game and has been intercepted a combined five times by Stanford, Oregon and USC.
Arizona’s defense isn’t nearly as good as those at Stanford, Oregon and USC.
I would expect Price to pass for close to 300 yards and make a couple of plays with his feet against a UA defense that hasn’t been able to rush the passer since Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore graduated after the 2010 season.
(At least the Huskies don’t have running back Chris Polk anymore; he rushed for 144 yards and scored five touchdowns last season as Washington roared back from a 10-0 deficit to win 42-31 in Seattle.)
The Washington defense is improved under first-year coordinator Justin Wilcox (from 108th in total defense last season to 40th nationally this season), but Arizona can move the ball against anybody on its schedule.
What’s intriguing, especially after a bye, is that Arizona can drill down further into its playbook.
“We have a lot of our offense that we’ve practice and not ran — just because we didn’t have to or we didn’t feel we could execute it well,” said coach Rich Rodriguez.
“Going into the second half of the season, we’re going to probably do more different stuff.”
Bottom line: A shootout at Arizona Stadium.
Arizona is 1-2 in close games this season, beating Toledo in overtime, losing to Oregon State and falling to Stanford in OT. These things have a way of evening out.
Prediction: Arizona 41, Washington 38.