Washington State Cougars at Arizona Wildcats Expert Picks with Odds and Predictions
Washington State Cougars at Arizona Wildcats, Noon, Saturday Oct. 21
The first 2018 BCS playoff rankings of the season will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 31. And the impending judgment on the teams vying for this year's college football national championship should provide a jolt of motivation for teams across the country this weekend.
No. 17 Washington State is one of the teams that will be tracking Tuesday's poll. And this week's crucial Pac-12 matchup with resurgent Arizona could help to either vault the Cougars into the fringes of the playoff conversation or eliminate them altogether and serve as another blow to the Pac-12's chances of getting someone in the four-team playoff.
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No. 17 Washington State will take on Arizona at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, in a game with major Pac-12 ramifications. The visiting Cougars have been posted as three-point favorites and the total is set at 64.5.
Washington State at Arizona Betting Storylines
After a lackluster 2-2 start to the season, the Wildcats have busted out with three straight wins and moved themselves into the thick of the Pac-12 South race. Arizona, which is 3-1 in league play, is tied with Arizona State for second place and just a half-game back from 4-1 USC.
The Wildcats are looking to keep that momentum going with a Top 20 upset down in the desert this week. But they should also be imbued with a serious revenge motivation against the visiting Cougars. Washington State absolutely humiliated Arizona at Pullman last year, winning 69-7 and dealing coach Rich Rodriguez one of the worst losses in his career.
Rodriguez, who entered this season on the coaching hot seat, has massively improved his team's chemistry and focus .They have outgained five straight opponents and have held together for back-to-back road wins by a total of four points.
Washington State has played only two road games this season, beating Oregon soundly before their disastrous, seven-turnover performance at Cal on national television. The Cougars bounced back from that potentially devastating loss to blank Colorado 28-0 in a dominating effort.
That shutout was the latest outstanding effort for one of the most underrated units in the country. Mike Leach is always known for his high-scoring offensive attacks. But the Cougars have won seven of their first eight games thanks in large part to a defense that is No. 7 in total yards, No. 3 against the pass, and in the Top 25 in both rushing defense and points allowed.
Defense has been a major issue for the Wildcats, who are No. 98 in total D and No. 99 against the pass. However, Arizona's offense is averaging more than 510 yards per game (No. 7 nationally) and a whopping 43.1 points per game.
The Wildcats have scored at least 45 points in three straight games thanks in large part to the amazing effort of sophomore Khalil Tate. Tate, who took over for injured Brandon Dawkins at Colorado, has rushed for an eye-popping 780 yards and seven touchdowns in just 56 attempts. That's an astounding 13.9 yards per rush and a touchdown once every eight times he tucks it and takes off.
Washington State quarterback Luke Falk is essentially the antithesis of Tate, as he is bearing down on several all-time Pac-12 passing records. Falk is coming off one of his worst games of the season but is on pace for yet another season of 4,500 passing yards and nearly 40 touchdowns.
Washington State at Arizona Odds and Betting Trends
Washington State remains one of the most underrated and undervalued teams in the country, and they are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall. That includes a solid 4-1 ATS mark in their last five Pac-12 matchups. The Cougars have had some issues on the road, going just 1-4 ATS in their last five games outside of Pullman, but they have actually won outright in their last two trips down to Tucson.
The road team has won four of the last five and seven of 10 when these two face off. The underdog is 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings.
The Wildcats are just 6-15 ATS in their last 21 games overall and 3-9 ATS in their last 12 conference games. Arizona, which is coming off a win but failure to cover last week, has gone just 2-6 ATS in their last eight games after a win.
With regards to the total, Arizona has been a clear 'over' play due to their suspect defense. The Wildcats have gone 'over' in four of their last five, and they are 10-2 against the total following a win. They are 13-6 against the total in their last 19 home games, and the 'over' is 16-5 when they play a team with a winning record.
Washington State, on the other hand, has gone 'under' in five straight games, including last week's shutout win.
Washington State at Arizona Predictions and Picks
The more I look at this game the more I see a shootout. Washington State's defense, which has been outstanding all season, may have peaked last week with their weather-aided shutout of Colorado. They are not going to shut out this Arizona attack, which has been surging under the electrifying Tate.
Further, Arizona's defense is definitely a mess. Their secondary is a sieve, and I think that this will be a chance for Falk to break out. You know Leach's teams never need an excuse to sling it, and after scoring just 31 points in the last two weeks combined I expect the Cougars to get to 30 points with relative ease.
The last three games between these two have seen a total of 76, 87 and 96 points scored. I see no reason why both teams won't fill it up on Saturday in what should be a very competitive, back-and-forth game. I think the 'over' is the way to play it.
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