Washington State-Arizona sets up as another shootout

Oct 23, 2014, 1:06 PM | Updated: 1:25 pm
Connor Halliday, the nation's leader in passing yards this season, could be in for a big afternoon against Arizona and its 109th-ranked pass defense. (AP)
(AP)

WSU (2-5) vs. No. 15 Arizona (5-1)

Kickoff: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Martin Stadium
Radio: AM 770 KTTH
Line: Arizona by 2.5

What’s at stake: Help me figure something out. Arizona is ranked 15th in the country and is just a missed field goal against USC away from being undefeated. A few weeks ago, Arizona beat Oregon 31-24 at Autzen Stadium and pretty much controlled the Ducks all night long. Washington State is 2-5 and coming off a 34-17 loss at Stanford Oct. 10. Yet the Cougars are only 2.5-point underdogs against Arizona Saturday afternoon in Pullman.

I’m subjective when it comes to WSU, but I have a hard time seeing how my favorite college football team can be a 2.5-point underdog to one that won at Oregon.

Then again, as I’ve proven over and over again, what do I know? And as they’ve proven over and over again, the guys in Vegas know what they’re doing. If you think Arizona’s a lock, be careful. Based on the spread, the game will more than likely come down to the wire.

The Cougs need to win four of their last five games to qualify for a bowl game. It looks unlikely, but Washington State could outscore Arizona in what looms as another shootout at Martin Stadium. These teams won’t combine for 119 points like Washington State and Cal did, but both have explosive offenses and weak defenses, setting up a game in which the winning team could be in the 40s, the loser in the 30s.

Why the Cougs might win: For whatever this is worth, there’s precedence. No one thought the Cougars would win at Arizona last year, but they did, 24-17.

Statistically, Arizona’s defense is almost as bad as Washington State’s, so there should be plenty of scoring opportunities for Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. Connor Halliday will break Alex Brink’s school passing record of 10,913 career yards in this game. Halliday needs 138 passing yards to break Brink’s record and also needs to average 311 yards in his last five games to break Matt Barkley’s conference record of 12,327 passing yards.

If they get a big night from Halliday and the kind of night they got from their defense in a 28-27 win at Utah last month, the Cougars could improve to 3-5.

Why the Cougs might lose: For starters, Arizona has the superior team. The Wildcats have won three in a row in Pullman. Freshman quarterback Anu Solomon has been terrific, completing 63 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Try as I might, and Lord knows I’m trying, I haven’t seen enough from the Cougars to think that they’ll beat Arizona. But in a nod to those really sharp guys in Vegas, I’ll say we lose but cover the spread.

Prediction: Arizona 41, Washington State 39
Season record against the spread: 5-2

The Go 2 Guy also writes for SeattlePI.com and KitsapSun.com. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.

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Washington State-Arizona sets up as another shootout