The Arizona Wildcats are 7-2 and nationally ranked in both the AP and Playoff polls, but they could get pushed at home on Saturday by the Washington Huskies home in Tucson.
It could be a closer game that the posted point spread suggests in the desert on Saturday when the Washington Huskies (6-4, 3-1 away) pay a visit to the Arizona Wildcats (7-2, 4-1 home), ranked 17th in the latest AP poll, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, AZ at 3:30 ET in a game televised nationally on FOX.
The posted line at Pinnacle Sports has Washington as a decided underdog of +9 for this contest at current odds of -106.
Also on Playoff Rankings
Besides being ranked in the AP, the Wildcats are also tentatively 19th in the College Football Rankings as we await the new rankings on Tuesday night, and they certainly do not figure to drop after being victorious college football picks 38-20 here at home vs. Colorado Saturday, although they did just miss covering the spread as 18½-point favorites.
Washington began this season 4-0 out of conference, but the Huskies are now 2-4 in Pac-12 play after losing at home 44-30 to UCLA as Bruins’ Coach Jim Mora enjoyed his return to his old alma mater. The highlight for the Huskies was running back Shaq Thompson rushing for exactly 100 yards on just 16 carries, raising his rushing average for the season to an incredible 7.5 yards per carry!
Huskies Can Run and Stop the Run
Which takes us to why Washington is usually very appetizing as a decided underdog like it is in here, as the Huskies are simultaneously good rushing the football offensively and also stopping the run defensively. As a result, the only two teams that have out-rushed Washington this year have been Oregon and Stanford, and the Huskies face no such rushing juggernaut here.
Washington is averaging a hefty 188.0 rushing yards per game and it has done a good job of distributing the wealth. Thompson has taken over as the lead back recently with his 456 rushing yards, but Lavon Coleman follows closely behind with 438 yards and there are three other running backs on the roster with at least 225 rushing yards, so there is never a significant drop-off in the backfield regardless of the back.
Granted the Huskies are one-dimensional ranking 110th in the nation in passing offense with 177.0 yards per game, but quarterback Cyler Miles is actually not inept when called upon to throw as he has completed 65.5 percent of his passes with 12 touchdown passes vs. just two interceptions.
And do not forget about the Washington rushing defense, which is ranked 38th in the country yielding 138.3 yards per game on the ground on just 3.5 yards per carry. That defense is quite capable of turning Arizona into a one-dimensional passing offense, which could expose Wildcat quarterback Anu Solomon.
Not a High Percentage for Solomon
Yes, Arizona ranks 14th in the land in total offense with a whopping 506.4 yards per game with good balance, averaging 192.6 rushing yards and 313.9 passing yards. As impressive as those passing numbers are, the success of the Arizona offense starts with the running game as the Wildcats have been out-rushed three times this season, and they are 1-2 straight up (their only two losses) and 0-3 ATS in those contests!
That is because despite all the passing yardage he has amassed, Solomon needs the support of the run to be successful because he does not seem quite polished enough yet to carry a team on his own. That is evidenced by his low 59.5 percent completion percentage and very average 7.0 yards per pass attempt. To put that in perspective, consider that Washington’s Thompson has averaged more yards per rush than Arizona’s Solomon has averaged per pass!
Furthermore the Arizona defense does not seem to be on the same level as Washington as that unit is ranked 98th in total defense at 438.7 yards and 65th in points against at 26.1 per game.
Better on the Road?
Finally, it is interesting that the Huskies are 3-1 on the road as opposed to 3-3 at home, with the only road loss being an understandable one at Oregon. Both of Washington’s Pac-12 wins have come on the road by comfortable margins, as the Huskies prevailed 31-7 at California and 38-23 at Colorado.
Add this all up and look for Washington to give Arizona all that it can handle, making this fairly big amount of points worth grabbing at Tucson on Saturday on FOX.
College Football Pick: Washington +9 (-106)