Arizona 101: Into the Desert

ARIZONA HAS RETURNED to the Top 25 for the first time in nine years and is looking to keep their Pac-10 title dreams alive. With a bye week to prepare and get healthy, and a rejuvenated homecoming crowd at their backs, the Wildcats will try to jump on the Cougs early. The biggest matchup question surrounds the WSU offensive line and an Arizona defense that specializes in sacks and against the run.

Cougars (1-7) vs Wildcats (5-2)
AT A GLANCE
KICKOFF:
12:30 pm Pacific Time

WHERE:
Arizona Stadium (65,000)

TELEVISION:
Fox College Sports and delayed FSN-NW 7:30 pm

RADIO:
The Cougar Sports Radio Network covers much of the West. Click here for listings.

THE LINE:
Arizona by 33.5

LAST MEETING:
Arizona won 59-28 last year

THE SERIES:
UA leads 23-13

CF.C PREDICTION:
Cougars 78, Cats 4.667

THE CATS ON OFFENSE

Players to Know
Nick Foles, QB: Like his peer Jeff Tuel, Foles has only five starts under his belt. The sophomore has completed an unusually accurate 73 percent of this throws this year. He's helped make up for the loss to injury of a few key starters at times this season and has helped the offense remain consistent.
Keola Antolin, RB: As one of Arizona's only healthy running backs, he should get the bulk of the workload this week.

Overview
Arizona's No. 14 ranked offense is balanced and efficient. Mike Stoops has been surprisingly willing to put the offense on young Foles' shoulders and he has responded well. He owes a lot to fantastic protection from his offensive line. Arizona ranks No. 4 nationally in sacks surrendered.

Strategy
WSU's best bet could be to focus on stopping the run and force UA's inexperienced quarterback to risk turnovers. Sooner or later the Cougs are going to get a good bounce or two and make some big plays. Arizona will try and capitalize on safety Jay Matthews making his first start in place of the injured Chima Nwachukwu.

THE CATS ON DEFENSE

Players to Know
Ricky Elmore, DE: Elmore and UA feast against the left side of the WSU line, which ranks last nationally in sacks allowed. He is on pace for 10 sacks this year.

Overview
Arizona's 24th ranked defense is a base 4-3, and features a lot of speed and veteran players. They are very tough against the run, an area that WSU is struggling considerably. Dwight Tardy showed more speed last week and if he and the Cougs can get even an average running game going it would help the passing game tremendously.

Strategy
When Tuel has time to operate, he really looks like he is capable of picking apart any defense. He has not, however, had much of it with a young, injury depleted line. It is more a matter of execution than strategy of late and Tyson Pencer, a redshirt freshman expected to start at left tackle, will need to protect Tuel better than he did against Notre Dame, as will the entire o-line in general.

THE CATS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Arizona has been sound in all facets of special teams.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Arizona finds themselves in sole possession of second place with Oregon still on the schedule. With so little else to think about for the past two weeks other than WSU, it is hard to expect them not be ready to play. The Cougs need to keep it close and force Arizona to play a full four quarters, the Wildcats blew a 12-point lead in the last four minutes to the Huskies in a game they dominated and came away with a loss.


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