Wildcats try to hang with Huskies out West
Jake Browning threw for 16 touchdowns last season. His drastic improvement as a sophomore, though, has helped catapult Washington into the elite class of college football.
On Saturday, the Huskies and their ace quarterback hope to stay hot against Arizona. Oddsmakers at online sports book BetDSI currently list Chris Petersen’s squad as a 14-point favorite heading to Tucson. The over/under is 58.
In addition to leading the nation in passing efficiency, Browning has tossed juts one interception. He’s totaled 744 yards through the air, propelling Washington to authoritative victories over Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State. In fact, the Huskies’ last loss came 10-plus months ago.
Yet the program’s bond to encounter at least a little adversity in the desert. The Wildcats boast a 7-5 record at home against top-10 foes since 2005. Moreover, coach Rich Rodriguez appears to have addressed the glaring defensive issues that that torpedoed the team’s hopes a year ago. After surrendering 30-plus points in each of its final seven contests of 2015, Arizona’s held BYU, Grambling State and Hawaii below that mark in September.
Yet flaws still linger, as evidenced by that 18-16 setback to the Cougars that opened the campaign. If sophomore signal-caller Brandon Dawkins suffers through any sort of an iffy stretch, the supporting cast simply can’t pick up the slack. No. 1 tailback Nick Watson’s foot injury complicates matters further, even though true freshman J.J. Taylor filled in admirably vs. the Rainbow Warriors.
This contest will boil down to the trenches, and that’s a sobering realization for the Wildcats. The hosts are woefully undersized on both fronts, whereas Washington oozes NFL-caliber strength and athleticism. Feel confident in going with the road squad here.
FRIDAY NCAA FREE PICK: WASHINGTON -14