(Time to let it go.) They never change the score, so the disappointing loss against USC is officially in the books and even though it was certainly a winnable game, the Huskies literally shot themselves in the foot yet again and in doing so literally gave the game away. The reality is there is now little chance of Washington playing in the conference championship game simply because Oregon would have to lose three games and that’s not going to happen.
At 3 and 3, the Huskies are now playing for a winning season and a bowl bid and an opportunity to improve by earning the 15 extra practices that come with that bowl. It doesn’t get any easier as four of their last six games are going to be on the road and they still haven’t proved they can win away from home. If Washington can simply eliminate their turnovers they will start winning games again. Unfortunately, they followed up their 3 fumbles lost and two interceptions against Oregon with two fumbles and two interceptions plus a blocked punt against the Trojans. Yikes! It’s really difficult to win games when you don’t protect the football and that is precisely what has separated them from winning either of their last two Games.
Arizona is next up and the Huskies will have to shift gears and get ready for another Oregon style offense because The Wildcats use a no-huddle spread shotgun attack that ran over a 100 plays in their game against Stanford. In the Huskies’ last game against USC, the Trojans only ran 60 plays so that will create a considerable stress for the improving but still developing defense of the Huskies. The answer is probably to keep the Wildcat offense on the sidelines with a ball control approach to the game. Win the running game, win the kicking game and Washington will win this contest if they can also win the turnover battle.
Arizona additionally is coming off a bye and has had two weeks to prepare for Washington and should be fresh and at full strength. They are led by quarterback Matt Scott who is throwing the ball more than anyone in the conference except maybe the Cougars and has an excellent running back in Ka’Deem Carey who is as good of a receiver as he is a running back. Although winless in conference play the Wildcats will be looking to turnaround their season with a victory here. After losing two straight in conference the Huskies likewise need to win this game to stay on track for a bowl. It sets up a must win for both programs but Washington will need to clean up their act to beat a desperate team on the road.
The Huskies essentially lost the kicking game against USC when Travis Coons had a punt blocked for a touchdown and then also missed a 45 yard field goal that would’ve cut the lead to a one score game. Those 10 points essentially were the winning margin. Arizona has a questionable kicker who has only made 54% of his tries and Washington’s return game has been threatening to take one the distance so the kicking game could be a decider if the Huskies can finally spring a punt or kickoff return for a score. Regardless, they can’t allow another kick to be blocked the rest of the season because they are not a good enough team to overcome errors in that aspect of the game.
Keeping Scott in check will also be tough as he has really adapted well to the offense installed by new head coach, Rich Rodrigues. Scott is currently the leading passer in the conference as well as the leader in total offense. The Wildcats are averaging well over 50 passing attempts per game so the Husky defense will need to find a pass rush if they are going to stay in this game. Arizona is really explosive on offense as evidenced by their stunning 59-38 win over Oklahoma State earlier this season. The Wildcats were undefeated after their three non-league games before dropping three straight games in Pac12 play. They got blasted by Oregon just as Washington did but have also lost close games to both Oregon State and Stanford, two pretty good teams.
Scott’s favorite targets are Austin Hill and Dan Buckner who have caught 42 and 39 balls respectively and the season is only half over. Scott has really been rocked on occasions but always bounces back so his toughness is obvious and the Huskies would do well to keep the ball on offense. The Wildcat defense is really suspect and has given up yards and points in bunches this year so this could end up being a shootout. Regardless, the Huskies will also need to reduce their penalties because Arizona is one of the least penalized teams in the league, that and just keep answering on offense if they hope to return home victorious. Because they are on the road and because Arizona is coming off a bye, I would be surprised if Washington is the favorite here. The Huskies are lucky the game is being played at night but will need to pressure Scott, intercept him a couple of times and create something in the kicking game. This would be a great win at this time of the season. Go Dawgs!