The Arizona Wildcats look to keep bowl hopes alive against Washington State this weekend

Via Arizona Athletics

The Arizona Wildcats look to keep bowl hopes alive against Washington State this weekend

Football

The Arizona Wildcats look to keep bowl hopes alive against Washington State this weekend

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The University of Arizona Wildcats are in a place they could only imagine just a week ago. At 4-6 overall and 2-5 in the conference, two wins will unlock some serious nirvana not seen since their last bowl appearance in 2017 at the Foster Farms Bowl. It was also the end of a tumultuous era of Wildcats football under head coach Rich Rodriguez. 

Washington State won’t be easy. The Cougars are 6-4, 3-4 in the conference. And statistically, better than the Cats on paper. Their defense ranks 20th in scoring, allowing only 19.8 points per game. Five Pac-12 teams score at least 38.4 per game. For the Cougs, that stingy PAC-12 defense breaks down to being in the top three; 1st. in scoring defense, 3rd. in total defense, and 3rd in third-down defense. The Cougars are also fourth against the run and the pass. 

Jedd Fisch has his team in a playoff mindset. The win against UCLA was an unexpected upset, but not necessarily a fluke. With a season under their collective belts where better balance, structure, and confidence were the game plan, finding some payoff in Pasadena wasn’t a bridge too far, just one needing to be crossed. One big emotional factor on Saturday will be Wildcats quarterback Jayden de Laura. 

De Laura was on the Washington State team who destroyed Arizona in Pullman last season. He wrecked the Wildcats with 259 yards and four touchdowns just on three completions alone. He’d round out his day with an additional 31 rushing yards in a 44-18 win. He was on the verge with the Cougars after starting 15 games in 2020-21 and was the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year last season. His remarks at a Tuesday press conference had him noting that at the end of the day, WSU is just another opponent.

A two game winning streak and a postseason appearance is something to play for, even if it means beating a team like Washington State where the Cats come in as a clear underdog. It’s a 50-50 proposition whether they can or cannot close the deal. But with a lot of confidence, they have created an opportunity for themselves against Washington State this weekend and Arizona State next weekend in Tucson.

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