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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Arizona at Washington State

When/where: Saturday, 3 p.m., Martin Stadium, Pullman

TV: Pac-12 Washington

Records: Arizona (5-1, 2-1); Washington State (2-5, 1-3)

Last time: WSU defeated Arizona 24-17 in Tucson (2013)

Line: Arizona by 2.5

What it means for Arizona: The Wildcats, one win away from bowl eligibility, have risen to a No. 15 ranking thanks to their ability to win close games. Except for a season-opening blowout of UNLV, none of Arizona’s games have been decided by more than a touchdown. That could mean the Wildcats are exceptionally good at finding ways to win, or it could mean that UA isn’t much better than its opponents. A road game against another high-powered offense will be a good test for this emerging team.

What it means for WSU: The Cougars, on the other hand, have been on the losing end of a number of close games. Washington State has proved that it can hang with good Pac-12 teams but at some point the Cougars need to start winning. Last year a win over Arizona seemed to turn WSU’s fortunes around and the team became much more competitive after a string of losses that led into the Arizona game. Can Arizona be WSU’s catalyst once again?

Key matchup: Anu Solomon vs. WSU’s pass rush

Arizona’s offense still relies on the run to set up the pass, which should show just how impressive redshirt freshman Anu Solomon has been to become the No. 9 passer in the country in total yards and to throw for 15 touchdowns against just four interceptions. With the Wildcats’ top two running backs questionable due to injury, expect Solomon to air it out even more to his talented group of receivers. Washington State’s defense has been most successful this season against mobile quarterbacks like Solomon because it’s not afraid to chase them. If Solomon’s receivers have time to get open he’ll find them, so the Cougars need to disrupt the pass before it’s in the air.

Jacob Thorpe