There is a common thread that runs through the Arizona gridiron action this weekend. At this point, each team is overflowing with uncertainty. Zero out of the three teams really know what they're going to get out of their players on a given day. Every one of these matchups is dangerous and could easily end up as trap-games.
But then again, who knows? Maybe we actually might have three legitimate teams out here.
We'll just call it Arizona's "show ‘em if ya got ‘em" weekend. Let's take a look, Vegas-style.
Arizona State +3.5 @ California
Sooner or later, the Pac-10 has to figure itself out. Right now, nine of the ten teams have at least three wins (sorry, Washington State), and five different teams are 3-3. Don't let anybody ever tell you that parity does not exist in college football.
After seven weeks, both ASU and California find themselves within that 3-3 bracket. Each team has come inches away from defeating a highly ranked opponent -- Cal's 10-9 loss to Arizona, take your pick for ASU -- and has had performances ranging all across the spectrum. Fact is, you never know whats going to happen with these two teams.
Still, the Sun Devils might have had a breakthrough in their win against Washington. After consistently falling just short of victory three weeks in a row, the Devils were able to put everything together and defeat a Huskies team on the rise.
The question remains whether or not that is an isolated incident or a sign of things to come.
On the other side, the Golden Bears rely on a ball control offense and currently rank third in average time of possession throughout the Pac-10. If the Sun Devils are able to contain Shane Vereen and California's rushing game, and dare quarterback Kevin Riley to beat them, they have a good shot.
Riley has been under fire lately for his poor play, and only two other signal callers in the conference have thrown more interceptions than the Golden Bear quarterback.
The Arizona State defense will step up to the challenge and lead the team to an upset win in Berkeley.
Intern Prediction: Arizona State 32, California 28
Arizona -6.5 vs. Washington
The past couple weeks have not been kind to the Arizona Wildcats. First, they lost their unbeaten record against the
Rodgers Brothers Oregon State Beavers. Then they lost star quarterback Nick Foles to a dislocated kneecap against Washington State, the patsy of the Pac-10.
The Wildcats hope to survive the next three weeks with back-up Matt Scott under center. The junior performed marginally well in two-and-a-half quarters of action against the Cougars, throwing 14-for-20, for 139 yards and an interception.
However, the Huskies are a much more formidable opponent than their in-state brethren. Within the past three weeks, Washington has knocked off two ranked Pac-10 opponents, shocking No. 18 USC and No. 24 Oregon State by one point each. NFL prospect quarterback Jake Locker accounted for 767 total yards and six touchdowns in those two games. Do not get the wrong impression -- the Huskies are a capable team.
Regardless, Matt Scott is no stranger to the bright lights. The four-star recruit started three games in his sophomore year before ceding the job to Foles. Since then, Scott has been biding his time, knowing that his chance would come. The hunger to succeed is something that cannot be overstated, and Scott seems to have that in spades.
Still, with Scott's limited arm strength, the head coach Mike Stoops will most likely have to rework the offense. Expect the deep balls to Juron Criner to be less frequent, as the focus shifts to getting the three-headed monster of Grigsby, Antolin, and Nwoko going, softening the interior of the defense and opening up some short-to-middle play-action routes for Scott to nail in the process.
It's going to be a battle, but the Wildcats might just have enough in them to pull out a nail-biting victory.
Intern Prediction: Arizona 17, Washington 16
Cardinals +5.5 @ Seahawks
At the beginning of the year, if I was to tell the fine folks in Arizona that through the first six weeks of the season the Cardinals would be 3-2 and tied atop the division, most would have been satisfied with that. Conversely, if I was to tell Seattle fans that the Seahawks would be 3-2 and tied atop the division, the populous within Washington would have been absolutely ecstatic.
Therein lies the danger of this matchup.
The Seahawks have no expectations. They just come out and compete. In essence, they are playing with house money. That can be a perilous thing to contend against in the NFL.
Honestly, I really can't figure Seattle out. Despite possessing a pedestrian running game -- even new addition Marshawn Lynch averaged only 2.6 yards per carry in his first appearance -- and a middling passing game, the Seahawks have just found ways to win.
Actually, that kind of sounds familiar.
Surprisingly, the upstart Seahawks and the Cardinals have a similar story through six weeks. Both teams are succeeding in bizarre fashion despite constantly being expected to fail, and both teams possess a titanic home-field advantage within the confines of their natural habitat. Undrafted rookie quarterback Max Hall has never faced an atmosphere comparable to the one he will see on Sunday.
Fortunately, The Stormin' Mormon will be aided by the return of some familiar faces. The wide receiver corps should be back at full strength, as both Steve Breaston and Early Doucet make their return from the injury list. It also looks as though linebacker Gerald Hayes, an integral part of the Cardinals defense, will be making his first appearance of the season. With everybody back and close to healthy, this Cardinals team may start to regain some of the luster of recent years.
Somehow, someway, this is a huge game. The winner claims sole possession of the NFC West. It remains to be seen how Max Hall responds to the big game environment. Will he shrivel up like an undrafted rookie should? Or will he channel his inner Kurt Warner and will his team to a victory?
Maybe I'm just blinded by the Max Hall hype-train, but I think he can do just enough to steal one in Seattle.
Intern Prediction: Cardinals 27, Seahawks 23
Last week's record: 1-0
Total record: 8-4