WSU

Preview: No. 19 WSU looks to rebound vs improved Arizona

Oct 12, 2023, 11:32 AM | Updated: 11:33 am

WSU Cougars Nakia Watson...

WSU running back Nakia Watson rushes past Arizona safety Gunner Maldonado in 2022. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PREVIEW: No. 19 WSU Cougars vs. Arizona

Saturday at 4 p.m.
Radio coverage begins at 2 p.m. on Seattle Sports 710 AM
Series record: Arizona leads 27-19.

Is this the end of the Apple Cup for UW and WSU?

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

WSU and Arizona are looking to rebound after tough road losses last week in Los Angeles. The Cougars fell six spots in the AP Top 25 after losing 25-17 at UCLA, a game where Washington State had four turnovers and managed just 216 yards of offense. Arizona had an even more painful setback, losing 43-41 in triple overtime against No. 10 USC. The Wildcats outplayed USC in every statistical category but couldn’t come away with the upset victory. For the third straight week the Wildcats will face a ranked opponent.

KEY MATCHUP

Will Arizona’s defense be able to slow down Washington State QB Cam Ward? It’s been a challenging last two weeks for the Wildcats defense with Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. two weeks ago and USC’s Caleb Williams last week. Now comes Ward, who will be trying to bounce back after a rough performance against UCLA. Washington State’s offensive line struggled to protect Ward and the QB was forced into errors. Ward was just 19 of 39 passing for 197 yards and two interceptions, but is still sixth in the country, averaging 317 passing yards.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Arizona: QB Noah Fifita. Since taking over after starter Jayden de Laura was injured, Fifita has been solid for the Wildcats. He led Arizona on a game-winning drive in its victory over Stanford, played well in the loss to Washington and threw for 303 yards and five touchdowns last week against USC. Fifita has thrown for 535 yards and eight touchdowns in two games – both against top-10 opponents.

WSU: WR Kyle Williams. With top target Lincoln Victor sidelined by a leg injury, Williams has become the favorite target for Ward. Williams had eight catches against UCLA and has 15 receptions in the past two games. Williams has at least one reception in all 30 games he’s appeared in at UNLV and Washington State.

FACTS & FIGURES

WSU has won the last three meetings overall and the last three times the teams have faced off in Pullman. … Arizona’s triple overtime game last week was the first triple OT game for the Wildcats since beating Washinton State 53-47 in 2000. … With Oregon State and UCLA up next on the schedule, the Wildcats could go five straight games facing ranked opponents.

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Preview: No. 19 WSU looks to rebound vs improved Arizona