Reinforcements have arrived for a Washington defense that surrendered 44 points in last week’s home loss to UCLA.
Hau’oli Kikaha, we’re told, should be fine after a stinger forced him out early last week. Shaq Thompson is switching back from running back to his preferred spot at linebacker. And sophomore receiver John Ross III is entering his first game as the scheduled starter at cornerback.
Those are three of the Huskies’ best athletes, and they might be enough to keep things tight for the Huskies (6-4, 2-4 Pac-12) at No. 17 Arizona (7-2, 4-2) on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. PT for a FOX broadcast.
Problem is, it’s hard to figure where the offense will come from for UW.
Everybody loves Deontae Cooper. What a story it would be if he does indeed emerge as the No. 1 running back — as it appears he will — and gives the Huskies a consistent spark. But to rely on Cooper to be that guy? That’s asking an awful lot.
Shaq is UW’s leading rusher, and he’s only been the featured guy there for three games. Ross is the team’s leading receiver, and he has only one catch (for minus-2 yards) over the past month. Point is, no one else has truly emerged a playmaker on offense.
Maybe this is the day both Cooper and Dwayne Washington breaks loose. Maybe Jaydon Mickens comes alive again. Maybe Cyler Miles settles in the pocket and completes some passes down field? Maybe Ben Riva and Dexter Charles return from ankle injuries to bolster the beat-up offensive line.
That could happen. Maybe.
But to expect all of that to happen, for all of it to come together at once?
That’s probably too much to ask on the road against a top-25 team.
Prediction: Arizona 31, UW 16
Saturday’s other the Pac-12 games:
Utah and Stanford: This week in the SEC Far West, two titanic defenses collide to decide who stays relevant in the Pac-12. Or, well, at least not irrelevant. Feels like there could be a hangover for the Utes, and Stanford is still the best defense in the conference (this conference, anyway) by a wide margin. The pick: Stanford 21, Utah 17.
Arizona State at Oregon State: Saw somewhere the other day that ASU is the most overrated team in the country. Suppose that’ll happen when you beat Notre Dame, perpetually the country’s most overrated team. Even so, the Sun Devils won’t have to play like a top-10 team to beat the Beavs. The pick: Arizona State 38, Oregon State 24.