GAME NOTES: The Washington Huskies go for another upset this weekend, as they invade Tucson to face off with the 15th-ranked Arizona Wildcats in Pac-10 action.
The Huskies played the role of spoiler once again last weekend, as they knocked off No.24 Oregon State, 35-34, after a failed two-point try by the Beavers in double-overtime.
"Again, I can't say it enough and I guess at some point it's probably going to get redundant, but I can't say it enough how proud I am of this football team and the heart they display," said head coach Steve Sarkisian.
Washington hasn't been able to get a rhythm going, having alternated wins and losses through six games, but the team has now defeated a pair of Top 25 teams in dramatic fashion. The Huskies upended then 18th-ranked USC, 32-31, on a last second field goal back on October 2nd.
Arizona meanwhile, rebounded from its first loss of the season with a 24-7 victory over struggling Washington State last weekend. It was a nice bounce back for the Wildcats, who were stunned, 29-27, by Oregon State the prior weekend.
This is the 27th all-time meeting between Washington and Arizona on the gridiron, with the Huskies holding a 17-8-1 edge in the series, including a 36-33 triumph in Seattle last season.
Washington's offense was electric early and late in last weekend's 35-34 double-overtime win over OSU. The unit scored the first 21 points of the game before being silenced until two TDs in the overtime sessions.
QB Jake Locker was terrific in the win, as he threw for 286 yards and a career-high five TDs, while adding another 60 yards on the ground.
"He battled; he competed. He just made some huge plays," stated Sarkisian on his star QB.
Considered one of the top players in the nation, Locker has now thrown for 1,431 yards and 13 TDs, while contributing 276 yards and three more scores with his legs. Jermaine Kearse has clearly been his go-to target and he showed that last weekend by making nine catches for 146 yards and four scores. He now has 37 receptions for 623 yards and nine TDs, ranking him among the top WRs around.
In the backfield, Chris Polk leads a ground attack, which is managing 172.8 ypg, with 571 yards and three scores. He too was effective in the win over OSU, carrying 25 times for 105 yards.
Defensively, Washington had moments of success against OSU, but ultimately the unit was accountable for five TDs allowed. The Huskies permitted 140 yards and four scores on the ground and the run defense has been a real issue this season, now surrendering 197.5 ypg. The defense has given up 16 of its 23 TDs via the run.
While the defense was gashed on the ground, the unit did do a decent job in picking off three passes to slow down OSU's aerial attack. Considering Washington had just two picks through the first five games, that was a really big effort from the defense. Mason Foster paced the defense with 12 stops in the win and he continues to be a tackling machine, leading Washington with 72 stops for the year.
QB Nick Foles was knocked from the game early, so Arizona turned to its ground attack to carry the load in last weekend's win over WSU. Keola Antolin led the way with 92 yards and a pair of TDs on 21 carries, while Nic Grigsby added 66 yards and a score on 14 totes. The Wildcats have a talented backfield with Grigsby (340 yards) and Antolin (218 yards) and they will surely be used more with Foles expected to miss some time.
The conference's leading passer, Foles hurt his knee early in the second quarter and was helped from the field. He is expected to miss a few weeks with a sprained right knee and that is a huge loss considering Foles was converting 75.3 percent of his pass attempts for an average of 266.7 ypg. Matt Scott stepped in after Foles went down last weekend and he finished the game with 139 yards and an INT on 14-of-20 tosses.
"We feel very comfortable with Matt and are excited to watch him play,' Stoops sated. "Matt is a guy who I said all along we can win at the highest level with."
Arizona's defense was pretty dominant for most of last game, as the unit held WSU to 297 total yards, including just 40 rushing on 34 attempts. The run defense has been stout all season for the Wildcats, who are permitting just 89.7 ypg behind a mere 2.6 yard per carry average.
The Wildcats even came up with several big plays on the defensive side of the ball, recording four takeaways and seven sacks. That makes 21 sacks for this defense, which is also averaging eight TFLs per game. Ricky Elmore has eight TFLs and a team-high six sacks to his credit after logging 2.5 sacks and three TFLs last weekend.
Arizona will be without its QB and that gives Washington an even better shot of springing an upset. The Huskies though, must show they can stop the run and remain consistent on offense if they want to upend the Wildcats. Expect Locker to get the job done and give Washington another win over a Top 25 program this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington 30, Arizona 24