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The Wildcats come to Tempe looking to have a positive end to a roller coaster season. The Cats under first year head coach John Mackovic started strong, winning their first three games against less than stellar competition. They lost five in a row, including three blow out losses and two last second heartbreakers, before splitting with the Bay Area schools.

For the most part the offense has been effective, but turnovers have been killers. With the exception of the Oregon State loss, the Cats haven't scored less than 21 in any contest and have scored over 30 five times. For the year they are averaging 28.6 points per game.

Turnovers have been the killer. Not only have they stopped a number of drives, but a number have directly or indirectly led to scores. When the Cats give up the ball it is at the worst time. The Wildcats have fumbled three times in the red zone and have thrown an interception down there as well.

Quarterback Jason Johnson has had a season to mirror the Wildcats' success and failures. Johnson has had some phenomenal games, but has looked poor in others. His day against Cal was near perfection, while memories of his last minute interception against USC still haunt Wildcat fans. Johnson has faced a lot of pressure this season and when pressured he has made some poor decisions. He's thrown for 12 interceptions, which is tied for tops in the Pac-10. When he has time to throw he can pick apart a defense. His 17 touchdown passes puts him at fourth in the Conference.

Phoenix's John Rattay has been the back up. He's been very inconsistent this season He had a great performance in relief against Stanford, but was shaky against Cal in mop-up duty. Rattay could see action in the finale.

Clarence Farmer is arguable one of the two or three best backs in the Pac-10. If he consistently got 20-25 carries a game, he could rival DeShaun Foster for yards per game. Farmer has been limited to 17.7 carries a game. Part is due to the Arizona offense and part is due to the fact that Arizona has trailed a lot this season. Even with limited carries he has rushed for 1071 yards and nine touchdowns. He's a big, strong back who has the speed to break off a big gain.

The Wildcats receiving corps are spearheaded by two Phoenix area players. Bobby Wade is the go-to guy, especially in recent weeks. Wade has 725 yards and seven touch downs. A bit under sized, Wade is quick and finds ways to get open. Avondale's Andrae Thurman has also stepped up his game this season. Senior Malosi Leonard has become the team's possession receiver, while speedy Brandon Marshall has become a big play target.

The Wildcat defense, especially the line, has been ravaged by injuries and attrition. Before the season started the already thin defensive line had one player transfer and two more become academic casualties. Keoni Fraser left the team mid season to further deplete the line. The defensive ends have been hit the hardest with four of the top-five players missing time. For the most part the line is healthy for this week.

The linebackers have also been hit hard with the injury bug. Two starters, Lance Briggs and Joe Siofele will play with casts on their hands. Briggs is the leader of the defense. He's a hard-hitting linebacker that flies around the field. The defense is designed to funnel the ball carriers to Briggs.

The defensive backs have failed to live up to the expectations that their solid play last season created. Due to the nature of the Double-Eagle Flex defense the unit plays mostly man-to-man defense. This has caused some problems this season. Michael Jolivette is the best cover man, while Brandon Nash is a great run stopping strong safety. Expect to see the unit to try to throw out some varied looks in an effort to slow down the speedy Shaun McDonald.

The Cats have been one of the most up and down, snake bit teams in the nation. When they have won, they've looked pretty good. When they have lost they have been maddening. The Cats suffered three of the worst losses in school history three weeks in a row and then followed it up with two last second losses that included their share of controversy.

The old cliché about rivalry games holds true for this one. It could be close, or either team could run away with it. My guess is that it gets decided late.

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