Lets face it Arizona enters the game with a 2-1 record and is playing very inconsistent, on the other side Washington enters the game 3-0 and is playing at an extremely high level. Currently Washington is ranked 9th in the AP-Top 25 poll, its highest ranking since 2000 when they were ranked number 6 with a record of 3-0 and lost at Oregon 23-16. The Huskies offense is lead by sophomore quarterback Jake Browning who has 12 TDs and 1 INT on the year and is completing just over 70% of his passes, a daunting task for the Arizona defense who has been exposed multiple times in the last 3 weeks. Arizona's defense through three games is much improved already from last season, but is going to be tested to the max this weekend. Washington's offense will be the best the Wildcats have faced this season by far, and this game will ultimately tell if Arizona is going to be competitive at all in conference play this season. So the real question is, "Can Arizona legitimately beat Washington?" and the answer is yes.
For Arizona to have success and ultimately upset the Huskies, Arizona is going to have to play a full 60 minuets of mistake free football. Pretty cliche for how a team needs to win against a better team, but is extremely true in Arizona's case. The Wildcats have been extremely inconsistent on a half to half basis thus far this season. In the first half against BYU and Grambling State, Arizona was outscored 30-3. In the second half against Hawaii, Arizona was outscored 21-13. The only chance Arizona has is if it plays a complete game, and thats going to come down to if Arizona can have good quarterback play from whoever the starter is this weekend, and the defense will have to bend but not break.
No one will know who Arizona's quarterback is until either Brandon Dawkins or Anu Solomon takes the first snap from scrimmage on saturday. But whoever it is, will be dealing with a daunting task of dealing with seven potential NFL players lead by All-American safety Budda Baker and company. Arizona's offense will have to be effective early and establish the run to open up the rest of the offense. Arizona has a better chance with Brandon Dawkins starting as he will open the offense up more and keep the defense honest, because of his ability to run the ball. If Arizona can execute early and score early in the game, look for the offense to gain confidence and get into a shootout with the Huskies; if not it could get ugly quick.
On the defensive side of the ball no one is expecting the Wildcats to dominate the Huskies, but what they can do to slow down the huskies and help the offense out is to force turnovers. Arizona's defense has been really good at that early in the season despite playing inferior competition. Arizona is yet to force a 3-and-out this season which is a sign of concern, if Arizona cannot force one this weekend then it could be a long game and a long season. The Wildcats defense does not have to play perfect, but they must play good enough to put the offense in good situations to give them a chance.
The Wildcats will come into the game as 10 point underdog according to the "experts" in Vegas, and will be extremely excited to have the chance to take down a top-10 opponent, something Arizona has been very good at since 2007 when number 2 Oregon fell in Tucson. The heat and crowd noise will be a factor the Huskies will have to overcome early, and if Arizona can get stops early look for a potential late-night upset in the desert.
Arizona 45 Washington 38