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Arizona-Washington State game blog: Cougars pull off the upset

Ka'Deem Carey finds his way into the end zone in the second quarter. Photo by Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Ka’Deem Carey finds his way into the end zone in the second quarter. Photo by Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona’s final drive ends in another red-zone failure. B.J. Denker, taking the snap from the WSU 13 with four seconds left, has trouble finding anyone open, then throws late to the corner of the right zone for Samajie Grant, who makes the catch a step or two out of bounds.

Washington State wins 24-17.

Arizona drops to 6-4 overall and 3-4 in the Pac-12 after the upset loss.

Be back with more after the press conferences …

* * *

Arizona’s defense fails to get a stop, including allowing a third-and-9 conversion en route to a WSU scoring drive. The Cougars cap it with a 25-yard pass from Connor Halliday to Isiah Myers with 2:15 left.

UA has one drive left to avoid being an upset victim.

* * *

Arizona’s Jake Smith counters WSU’s bounce off the upright by pulling a 34-yard field goal attempt wide left. Game still tied at 17, 6:59 to go. Smith missed from 40 at the end of the first half.

Someone has to win, right?

* * *

Arizona’s 12th man, the left upright, knocks away a 46-yard field goal attempt by Andrew Furney. Still tied in this 17-17 thriller, 10:24 left.

Furney was 6 of 7 this season from beyond 40 yards.

Now, which Wildcat will make a play?

* * *

End of the third quarter. It’s 17-17 in non-eventful game in front of a mild crowd. Cats need to scare up some energy here in a hurry.

* * *

Announced attendance: 42,080.

* * *

Arizona gets to the red zone and then has to do something RichRod hates — kick the ball. In a tight game, Arizona has to take the points on fourth-and-5, getting a 25-yard field goal from Jake Smith with 6:36 to go in the third quarter. So, it’s all tied at 17 in what has not exactly been a football clinic for either team.

* * *

Make it 13 games in a row: Ka’Deem Carey is over 100 yards rushing again, early third quarter.

* * *

Washington State goes for it on fourth-and-1 from the UA 22 and makes it easily, running right up the middle out of the spread formation. And the Cougs cash in with a 23-yard pass from Connor Halliday to River Cracraft (yes, his really name).

Mistake-making Arizona trails 17-14 with 11:17 to go in the third quarter.

* * *

Arizona comes out sleepy in the second half, with a three-and-out followed by a dropped snap by punter Drew Riggleman. WSU takes over at the UA 31. The special teams woes are back today.

* * *

Boston College’s Andre Williams rushed for 339 yards today against North Carolina State, so Ka’Deem Carey isn’t catching the nation’s leading rusher today. Carey has 90 yards on 13 carries at halftime.

* * *

Arizona missed a chance at a touchdown at the end of the half, as Terrence Miller let a pass in the end zone go off the tips of his fingers. Would have been a nice play, but it was catchable. The Cats have to settle for a 40-yard field goal attempt, but Jake Smith is wide left from 40 yards.

Was expecting this to be much-higher scoring. It’s 14-10 Arizona at halftime.

* * *

Yep, Arizona goes for it and B.J. Denker rolls left and converts 6-yard pass to Nate Phillips.

* * *

Fourth-and-3 from the WSU 30 with 52 seconds left in the half. Time for RichRod to go for it.

* * *

Arizona stops WSU for the third consecutive drive as Derrick Turituri’s third-down sack forces a punt. The freshman DE/LB is going to be a centerpiece of future UA defenses.

* * *

Arizona has found some rhythm on offense, going 90 yards on 15 plays (!) to make it 14-10 with 7:37 to go before halftime. Ka’Deem Carey takes it on a 7-yard swing pass, his second score of the day. Carey has scored 13 touchdowns this season — 12 by rushing.

* * *

So this basically was one big “never mind.”

Tra’Mayne Bondurant picked off Connor Halliday at the WSU 36, and Arizona gives it right back on the next play when B.J. Denker drops the shotgun snap. So much for momentum.

* * *

Fun with numbers: With 63 first-quarter yards, Ka’Deem Carey on pace to barely break Arizona career rushing record today.

* * *

Arizona responds quickly with a four-play, 61-tard drive in 1:09. Ka’Deem Carey starts it off with a 13-yard run and finishes it with a 30-yard tackle-shredding burst up the middle. Reminder: Arm tackles will not bring him down.

Arizona pulls within 10-7 with 0:47 to go in the first quarter.

* * *

Arizona’s six-DB look isn’t stopping the pass or the run but it does stiffen in the red zone to force a 24-yard field goal by Andrew Furney, who makes it 10-0 for Washington State late in the first quarter.

WSU has 113 passing yards and 64 rushing yards.

It could have been worse but Shaq Richardson broke up a third-down fade pass on third-and-goal from the 2.

* * *

Two drives, one first down for Arizona (and a costly pass interference penalty on Trey Griffey on the second possession). He’s playing ahead of David Richards at the moment; will have to find out why after the game.

* * *

Arizona having early trouble stopping the Washington State running game — yes, the running game. The Cougars, who rank last nationally with 52 yards per game on the ground, have 43 halfway through the opening quarter, including a 15-yard cut-and-burst from Marcus Mason for a touchdown.

WSU looks sharp, up 7-0.

* * *

There’s been a Trey Griffey sighting. On UA’s first play from scrimmage, the redshirt freshman catches the first pass of his career. It’s also his first career start.

And one more: He had a tackle on the opening kickoff.

And, oh yeah, his sister, Taryn, signed with the Arizona women’s basketball team this week. She’s a highly touted point guard.

* * *

On its first drive, Washington State runs for 13 yards on one play, about 25 percent of per-game average.

* * *

The Wildcats open with six defensive backs as its base set against the spread passing attack of WSU. Safety Will Parks starts for linebacker Scooby Wright.

* * *

Arizona wins the toss, defers … so let the passing begin.

* * *

Low 70s and sunny as kickoff nears. Might be a non-arriving crowd today, but you can’t blame the weather.

* * *

This could be the day. Ka’Deem Carey needs 249 yards to break Trung Canidate’s school career rushing record.

* * *

Arizona will be trying to improve to 7-3 and improve its bowl positioning, while Washington State, at 4-5 overall, still has to win two games to get bowl eligible. The Cougars play host to Utah and then finish at Washington after today’s game.


Washington State’s best player is senior safety Deone Bucannon, who should be in the mix for All-America honors. He is tied for the Pac-12 lead with five interceptions and is first in tackles with 9.4 per game.

“I think he’s a sure-fire NFL guy, maybe a first-day pick and, without question, one of the best safeties, not just in the league, in the country,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said.

“I’m that high on him. I think he’s just fantastic.”

Bucannon also has forced three fumbles and recovered two.

* * *

Rodriguez has talked this week about being concerned about what Washington State can do defensively after having 16 days to prepare for the Wildcats. Even in a regular week, defenses have been breaking tendencies in order to stop Rodriguez’s read-option attack.

“It happens to us anyway. We’ll be preparing for what someone has done all year and then come game time they’ll do something completely different defensively,” Rodriguez said.

“We’ve seen that in just about every game this year, so with 16 days, we have to be a little bit prepared for that. The biggest thing for us if for our players not to panic and the coaches to just make our adjustments and go from there.”

* * *

No team passes the ball more than Mike Leach-coached Washington State, which attempts 58.2 throws per game.

Quarterback Connor Halliday is fourth nationally with 344.2 yards per game, with 20 touchdowns and a national-high 18 interceptions.

“Strong arm, tough guy, can make every throw you want,” Rodriguez said. “And they will make all the throws. In other words, they are not limited in anything offensively. From the quick game to the downfield throws, they will make them all.”

But the Air Raid specializes in quick throws, which makes it hard for the defense to get time to pressure the quarterback. Washington State allows just two sacks per game.

“You still have to get hits on the quarterback,” said defensive tackle Tevin Hood.

“Get hurries, try to bat balls down, try to get the offensive linemen in his lap. Really, more than anything, just rattle him and get him out of his rhythm because (Halliday) is an excellent passer and has great timing.”

Arizona has 14 sacks, which ranks 11th in the Pac-12.


Washington State had the good fortune of playing Lane Kiffin-led USC early in the season, pulling off the upset in the Coliseum, but the Cougars have otherwise struggled and reverted to the team it was predicted to be this season.

All four of WSU’s losses in conference play have been by 24 points.

This one should be a bit closer, with the Cougars chipping away at the Arizona defense and, if the past few UA games have been a guide, mixing in a few back-breaking big passing plays.

Overall, though, the Wildcats have the better defense, allowing a yard less per play — 5.08 to 6.07. WSU has allowed more than 50 points in four of its past five conference games, the exception being woeful Cal.

Look for plenty of offense in the afternoon sun:

Arizona 51, Washington State 35.

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