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The pick: Why Washington State will beat Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. – Considering matchup advantages, the team’s recent results, the odds, the setting, the unpredictable nature of the Pac-12 – I had a tough time making a call on this one.

Washington State’s got a talented defense. Arizona’s got a high-powered offense. The Cougars’ offense appears to have an edge, but the Wildcats’ defense played its best game of the season last weekend.

WSU coasted to back-to-back wins over the past two weeks, locking up a postseason berth. Arizona just beat the ninth-ranked team in the country, holding UCLA’s electric offense in check during a 34-28 victory at the Rose Bowl.

The Cougars are 4.5-point favorites. But they’re on the road against a desperate Arizona team that needs two wins in its final two games to sneak into a bowl game.

Of course, the Cougs will be fired up to take on their ex-quarterback. The Wildcats are sure to draw some added motivation from QB Jayden de Laura, as well.

Here’s what I’m basing my decision on: The last time the Cougars went on the road to face an opponent with ties to their program, they responded well. In Week 2, WSU coach Jake Dickert returned to his home state, tailback Nakia Watson returned to his former school and the Cougars pulled off a memorable victory over a ranked Wisconsin team at Camp Randall Stadium. They’ll use that experience to their advantage.

The pick: Washington State 30, Arizona 28