The UA (1-9, 1-6 Pac-12) has not won at WSU (5-5, 4-3) since 2014, and its last two games there have seen the Wildcats allow a not-so-nice 69 points each time.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Arizona is a 15-point underdog.
Who will win? Here’s what our staff thinks:
Ronnie Stoffle — Washington State wins 34-16
It’s really interesting how competitive this Arizona team has become. That is entirely on the coaching staff as they have maintained focus and engagement. Looking back on conference play to this point, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed.
With that said, I don’t expect this game to be competitive. This has nothing to do with effort, preparation or talent gap. This is strictly due to the weather forecast. It’s expected to be snowing in Pullman on Friday night. All bets are off for warm-weather teams that travel to play in that weather.
Ezra Amacher — Washington State wins 20-17
When Washington State has struggled this season, it’s usually been because the Cougars can’t stop the opposition’s run game. WSU has allowed more than 200 rushing yards in four of its five losses, including 306 yards on the ground to Oregon last week. Which brings me to this point: Arizona’s season-long quarterback fiasco has in my opinion overshadowed one of the team’s most glaring weaknesses, the lack of a go-to running back on third down and red zone situations. Arizona has just six rushing touchdowns this season, fewest in the Pac-12 and tied for sixth-fewest in all of FBS. The Wildcats need one of their backs to step up Friday night and exploit the Cougars’ biggest defensive weakness.
WSU enters the game with plenty of motivation — it’s senior night and a win gives the Cougars bowl eligibility. I think WSU will do just enough to clinch a bowl game, though I hope I’m wrong.
Kim Doss — Washington State wins 24-21
These days, predicting the winning margin of an Arizona game is an exercise in just throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. It’s difficult to tell which teams might give them problems and against which teams they will put on a strong performance. Many of us expected the losing streak to end in Colorado where the Wildcats were instead blown out. Many of the same people expected Utah to stomp all over Arizona, but the Utes were lucky to get out of Tucson with a victory.
That does seem to indicate something good. The Wildcats have begun that upward trajectory in their ability to compete that I expected to see this season. That still isn’t enough to make me comfortable predicting an Arizona win this week.
It’s not just that the Wildcats have not played the Cougars since 2018. More importantly, they have not won in Pullman since 2014. This Arizona team will not be confused for the Arizona team that went to the Pac-12 Championship Game.
That doesn’t mean they don’t have the chance. The Cougars have been all over the map with their scoring, but they have been able to put points on the scoreboard more consistently at home. The big question is can they take care of the ball?
These two teams have thrown the most interceptions in the conference this year with Arizona’s 16 nudging out Washington State’s 13. Arizona hasn’t thrown an interception in two of their last three games, though. If the Wildcats can manage to make it three of their last four, they could flip the score and come out on top. I just wouldn’t bet on it.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 31-21
This is going to be an interesting game. The weather will be wet and cold. I do believe Arizona will throw, but I think they’ll run more than anything. And not only run, but have one of the better running performances of the season. Wazzu is ninth in the conference in run defense, giving up more yards than Arizona, though not by much. Wazzu also gives up more passing yards than UA.
The key for the ‘Cats is to not turn the ball over. The Coug defense is an opportunistic one, creating the most turnovers in the conference (22).
Then we get to UA’s defense. Second best pass defense in the Pac. Eighth best against the run. Fifth best overall. Arizona will need to play disciplined defense and be sure to look for screens and underneath short passes that’ll exploit any blitzes the good Doctor dials up.
The offenses, in terms of overall yards per game, are very close. If Arizona can slow Wazzu’s passing attack, stuff Max Borghi (which is possible), and play a cleanish game, they’ll win. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. The team has done all three things this season. Sometimes they’ve done two of these things in a game. It is very reasonable to believe they can do all three.
Adam Green — Washington State wins 34-20
At this point it is clear the Wildcats are an improved team, one that is capable of at least hanging with some of the conference’s best. Washington State is not a great team, and this certainly looks like a game Arizona could steal.
But it’s on the road, the weather will be different and quite simply I’m not sure if Arizona has enough depth to handle everything that will be thrown at them.
If Arizona can get its ground game going and continues to avoid turnovers, they’ll have a chance. But even against a team like Washington State the Cats will need to play nearly perfect, and I’m not sure they’ll have it in them on Friday.
Gabe Encinas — Washington State wins 31-28
I have not been able to watch the Cats play a whole lot this season, but from what I can digest this team is incredibly tough and might be playing their best four game stretch since Khalil Tate made his debut in October of 2017.
This roster really has no business being this competitive in the Pac-12. Fisch has managed to piece his roster together and get the most out of his guys right now. Arizona has been heavy underdogs according to Vegas all season and they have basically had all but Colorado within one drive of coming out on top.
This team will fight, scratch and claw it’s out way into a game and I don’t think they lose any sort of momentum. I don’t think they’re quite there yet, but I will not be shocked if Arizona wins this game.
This is the progress we wanted to see in the next head coach and we’re getting it.
Brian J. Pedersen — Washington State wins 30-23
As much as the coaches have tried to say otherwise, it’s hard not to think Arizona’s players will be looking ahead at least a little bit to the Territorial Cup. Beating WSU would be great for the program, but not nearly as much as beating ASU, so that could factor into the Wildcats’ play.
So will the conditions—cold—and the opponent, a Wazzu team that’s pretty decent and figures to pick apart Arizona’s hot-and-cold pass defense.
In the end, though, the UA will once again cover a large spread, like great teams do.