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Cougars look to upset Wildcats in Dad's Weekend contest

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The WSU football team will return to action on Saturday as they will host No. 15 Arizona at Martin Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:00 pm.

Christian Petersen

After a bye week, Cougar football returns to Martin Stadium on Saturday for a Dads' Weekend showdown against No. 15 Arizona. The Wildcats boast a 5-1 record that includes an upset of Oregon who was ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time. The lone loss for the Wildcats was a narrow 28-26 defeat to USC two weeks ago. Arizona fell in the rankings from No. 10 to No. 15 after the loss.

Despite Arizona's strong start and WSU's 2-5 record, the Wildcats are coming to Pullman as just a 2.5-point favorite. Both oddsmakers and WSU fans seem to be reaching the conclusion that the Cougs are a threat to compete and win on any given week. Last year, WSU went to Tucson and upset the Wildcats 24-17.

WSU's defense will have a pretty sizable task in shutting down a balanced Arizona offensive attack. The Wildcats rank 7th in the nation in pass yards and 34th in rushing yards. Leading the Arizona passing attack is redshirt freshman Anu Solomon. Solomon is averaging 7.68 yards per pass attempt and has thrown for 15 touchdowns against only four interceptions. On the ground, WSU will need to find a way to contain Nick Wilson who has compiled 574 yards on 90 attempts for a 6.4 YPA in his first six games of college football. Terris Jones-Grigby provides the Wildcats with solid depth in the backfield. He has carried the ball 57 times this season for 299 yards (5.2 YPA).

Although the season is just at the midway point, the Cougars and Wildcats share three common opponents, Nevada, Oregon, and Cal.  Arizona escaped each of these games with narrow victories. WSU lost against each of these opponents by an average score 6.33 points. Arizona averaged a six-point margin of victory against the same three teams.

Saturday's game will be a critical measure of the progress that WSU has made since the beginning of the season, especially over the past two weeks where the team has had a chance to physically rest up. In a season of frustrating losses, the bye week for WSU didn't seem to come soon enough. The chance to hit the reset button and get a fresh focus was something that WSU seemed to need after it dropped a shootout to Cal in the final minute as the result of a missed chip-shot field goal. A physical Stanford team wore down the Cougs six days later. Now WSU has fifteen days since its last game.

For a team that really needed to rest up and fine tune, Saturday's game will be a nice indicator of where WSU sits in relation to the rest of the conference. Not a single Pac-12 team is unbeaten in conference play and only one school, Colorado, has yet to win a game. There is a lot of parity in the conference right now and there should be parity on the field Saturday. Arizona has gotten of to a great start because they have been able win close games. WSU is off to poor start because they have dropped close decisions. Hopefully, the Cougs will find a way to swing the balance in their favor on Saturday. Kickoff is at 3:00 pm.

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