Keeping Luke Falk healthy is key for No. 25 Cougars vs lowly Arizona
The Cougars go for their seventh win in a row when they face Arizona at Martin Stadium Saturday at 1 p.m. You can watch the game on the Pac-12 Network and listen to it on 710 ESPN Seattle (pregame coverage starts at 11 a.m.).
We’re favored by 17 points for many good reasons. The superior team in this matchup is playing at home. The inferior team has not won a Pac-12 game. The inferior team has a coach, Rich Rodriguez, who is actually concerned about the pressure he might put on his players if he tells them they need to win out to go to a bowl game.
The Wildcats are 2-6 overall. First of all, it’s preposterous to think that a team as bad as his is will suddenly win four in a row and play in a low-rent bowl game in the middle of December. And if you’re one of his players, are you really going to tighten up because Rich Rod told you you need to win ‘em all to salvage your season? In private, Arizona players are probably telling each other: “Dude, can you believe Coach still thinks we can make it to a bowl game?”
Arizona has the 108th-best defense in the country. The Wildcats have not scored 30 points in a Pac-12 game this year; they average 20. The combination of those two things in a game against the high-powered Cougs does not bode well for this bowl-game nonsense.
The only thing that worries me about the Wildcats pulling off the upset is their game against the Huskies, the one they almost won in regulation only to lose in overtime. Everyone knows that Rodriguez should’ve gone for a two-point conversion at the end of regulation to try to win, but he didn’t.
If Arizona is good enough to hang with the fourth-ranked Dawgs, they could be good enough to hang with the Cougs.
If nothing else, the Wildcats have Trey Griffey, who has 19 catches for 360 yards, raising the possibility that Ken Griffey Jr. could be spending the day on the sideline at Martin Stadium taking photos of his son on Dads’ Weekend at WSU.
Luke Falk is my biggest concern with the Cougs. He’ll no doubt have another big day, but more and more, it’s hard not to worry about that kid’s health. He has been getting hit hard and often, and when he goes down, he seems to get the brunt of the turf every time, too.
Against Arizona, I hope he hands it off to one of his three running backs a lot and when he passes, I want to see the ball leave his hand in rapid-fire fashion before some huge Wildcat defensive lineman buries him and bounces his head off the turf. No one wants to see him get hurt, and no one wants to see another Apple Cup without him.
A notable fun fact: Arizona completed five passes in a 34-10 loss to Stanford last Saturday. Five. Falk will probably complete that many on his first drive.
The Cougars have gone three games in a row without covering the spread against UCLA, Arizona State and Oregon State, but I think that streak ends this week – along with the ridiculous notion of Arizona in a bowl game.
Line: WSU by 17
Prediction: Cougars 42, Wildcats 20
The Go 2 Guy also writes for SeattlePI.com and KitsapSun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.