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WSU at Arizona

Time: 12:30 p.m. Saturday. TV: FSN (delayed to 7:30 p.m.)

Site: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.

The records: WSU (1-7, 0-5 in Pac-10); Arizona (5-2, 3-1)

Last week: Arizona had a bye; defeated UCLA 27-13, Oct. 24. WSU lost to Notre Dame, 40-14

Last time: Arizona defeated WSU 59-28 in Pullman last year.

The line: Arizona by 31

What it means for WSU

By playing a non-conference game last week, the Cougars moved up a spot in the Pac-10 standings. Thanks to UCLA’s loss to Oregon State, the Bruins and WSU are tied for ninth. And that’s whom the Cougars meet in Pullman next weekend. So, on their last long road trip of the year, they should have a few modest goals. An upset to snap a five-game losing streak would be nice, of course, but nothing WSU has shown recently points toward finding a way to win in a hostile environment. But playing competitively and returning home without any more player losses should probably be considered a positive week for the Cougars.

What it means for Arizona

There are two teams that control their destiny in the Pac-10: undefeated, seventh-ranked Oregon and the 21st-ranked Wildcats. Of course, UA has yet to play the Ducks, Cal or USC, so the gauntlet hasn’t really begun. A homecoming stumble against Washington State would not only ruin any chance for Arizona to get to its first-ever Rose Bowl, it might end up costing the Wildcats any postseason play considering the rest of the schedule. Is that enough incentive to play well?

Key matchup

Arizona running back Nic Grigsby vs. WSU’s linebackers.

Grigsby has given the Cougars fits since stepping on the UA campus in 2007. As a freshman, Grigsby rushed for 186 yards in only his second collegiate start, helping the Wildcats to a 48-20 win. Last season, Grigsby topped that with a then-career-high 189-yard effort in a 59-28 UA win. Now a junior, Grigsby has been hampered by a shoulder sprain (and by sharing time with Keola Antolin and Greg Nwoko), but still has gained 535 yards on 71 carries, an impressive 7.5 yards–per-carry average. He is expected to be healthier following the Cats’ bye week. The Cougars linebackers were overpowered at times by Notre Dame’s 234-pound running back Robert Hughes last week, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem Saturday. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Grigsby is known more for his quickness. That means tackling in space will be critical.

– Vince Grippi


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