Crazy, unimaginable, life-endangering things tend to happen when Arizona comes to Husky Stadium.
Like this for example, courtesy of Mason Foster and Delashaun Dean’s right foot:
And, sorry to bring this up, but tell me your jaw still doesn’t drop at the death-defying acrobatics of Ortege Jenkins:
What does that mean this weekend?
Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.
But we can predict this:
With two of the nation’s best running backs on the field, and with rain in the forecast, we’ll see a lot of Bishop Sankey and Ka’Deem Carey after the No. 16 Huskies (3-0) and the Wildcats (3-0) kick off at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Huskies were embarrassed in Tucson last season, with Arizona running away for a 52-17 victory. It was a turning point for UW, which has gone to a similar no-huddle, up-tempo offense that worked so well for the Wildcats that day.
The UW defense wasn’t ready for that pace then. The Huskies are confident they are now.
Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Greg Ducre could be busy Saturday. Figure on the Huskies leaving them alone on an island for much of the day, hoping they can lead UW to paradise.
The idea, no doubt, will be to put the game in the hands of Arizona’s new quarterback, B.J. Denker, who ranks last in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. With star receiver Austin Hill out for the season with a torn ACL, it doesn’t help that the rest of Arizona’s receivers are young and unproven.
Be careful what you wish for, though: Denker is a dangerous runner — with five rushing touchdowns in three games — and the Huskies will probably see more read-option runs that they have this season, and maybe more than they will all year. That’ll put the onus on UW’s defensive ends, Cory Littleton and Hau’oli Kikaha, and outside linebackers, Shaq Thompson, Princeton Fuimaono and Travis Feeney, to stick to their responsibilities (i.e., not get caught watching the play fakes) and make tackles in space.
On defense, it’s difficult to gauge just improved Arizona is. The Wildcats, with their odd 3-3-5 “stack” defense, have allowed just 26 points in three games. Impressive on the surface, sure, but Arizona’s competition — Northern Arizona, UNLV, UTSA — leaves a lot of room for head scratching.
The bottom line is UW should be able to move the ball better than Arizona’s offense, particularly before a rowdy home crowd. Keith Price won’t have to be spectacular, just efficient and error-free as he has been so far this season.
Carey will get his carries, and he’ll get his yards. But the guess here is that the Huskies don’t let him do anything crazy.
The pick: Washington 35, Arizona 24.
Around the Pac-12:
—- No. 5 Stanford at Washington State (at CenturyLink Field): I heard Washington State AD Bill Moos note on the radio the other day that Stanford’s last (Pac-12) loss was at the CLink. Fun fact, sure. But it won’t do much good for the Cougars on Saturday night. Stanford and UW should both remain undefeated heading into next week’s showdown in the Bay Area. The pick: Stanford 38, Washington State 21.
—- USC at Arizona State: My kids recently learned “eeny, meeny, miny, moe.” So we tried that here and landed on ASU. I was kinda, sorta leaning toward the Sun Devils anyway, but Taylor Kelly and ASU have yet to prove much against any sort of quality competition. Insert joke here about USC being a quality opponent. The pick: Arizona State 27, USC 17.
—- Colorado at Oregon State: Two of the Pac-12’s most surprising story lines (Colorado’s 2-0 start vs. Sean Mannion’s right arm) converge in Corvallis. Heavy rains are in the forecast there, too, so it’s fair to wonder how the Beavers’ non-existent running game will respond. This could end up being the closest Pac-12 game of the week, but let’s give OSU a slight edge at home. The pick: Oregon State 34, Colorado 31.
—- Cal at No. 2 Oregon: If only the Bears’ defense was as precocious as Jared Goff. The pick: Oregon 52, Cal 14.