First look: Arizona at WSU
Time: Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Martin Stadium, Pullman
Records: WSU (1-5, 0-3 in Pac-10); Arizona (4-1, 1-1)
Last week: Washington State lost to Oregon, 43-23
Arizona lost to Oregon State, 29-27
Last time: Arizona defeated WSU, 48-7, in Tucson in 2009
The line: Arizona by 24
What it means for WSU: The Cougars have a little momentum built by a competitive effort last Saturday against No. 2 Oregon. Now the Wildcats come to town fresh off their first defeat of the season. If WSU can compete again this week – the Cougars trailed Oregon 36-23 and were driving for a score late in the third quarter when a game-turning interception occurred – against 17th-ranked Arizona, the momentum carries into a two-game road swing. If not, then the road gets tougher.
What it means for Arizona: Though the Cats lost at home last week to OSU, they can get right back into the Pac-10 race – and move up the national rankings – over the next three weeks. After they travel to Pullman, they host UW and head to UCLA before facing No. 14 Stanford on the road. But it all starts against WSU. An easy win here and UA washes the upset taste from its mouth. A struggle and doubts may creep in.
Key matchup: Arizona defensive end Ricky Elmore vs. WSU quarterback Jeff Tuel.
Washington State’s quarterback has proven he can carve up just about any defense in the Pac-10 if he gets enough time. That’s where Elmore comes in. Though tackle Justin Washington leads UA in sacks with four, Elmore is the experienced rusher off the edge, having started 27 games in his Arizona career. And he does have 3.5 sacks in his own right. Last year, he got to WSU quarterbacks twice in Tucson. If WSU’s offensive line can give Tuel time, he should be able to gash an Arizona pass defense that yielded 393 yards to Oregon State’s Ryan Katz.