More than five years after leaving the UA for an NFL career, Earl Mitchell returns to campus...
Wildcats to Host Huskies for Family Weekend Showdown
Arizona (3-3, 0-3 Pac-12) welcomes Washington (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12) to Arizona Stadium for Family Weekend. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MST on Oct. 20, and the game will be shown live on the Pac-12 Networks.
It's Family Weekend on the University of Arizona campus where a pair of 3-3 clubs with strikingly similar résumés – Arizona and Washington – will try to snap unsavory losing streaks and spark a second-half surge after hitting the midpoint in their respective schedules.
Both sides have faced the daunting task of playing three-straight ranked opponents and four total over their first six games. The Wildcats hope their one and only bye week presented some key players the necessary time to get healthy, rested and hungry.
The Huskies will trek south for what will be the first of four road games over their final six contests. Home teams have rewarded their crowds with a victory in each of the last four meetings, with UA claiming the last road victory in the series back in 2007.
The stare-at-the-stats difference between the two teams is clear: the UA has relied on its prolific offense to move the ball with ease and faces a stingy UW defense that has made up for a lackluster offensive unit that has yet to top 21 points against an FBS opponent.
A deeper look into the stats uncovers some interesting strategic dilemmas: Can the UA's defense, ranked 107th nationally in sacks, pressure quarterback Keith Price and the Huskies who rank 100th nationally in sacks allowed? Can Arizona, which leads the Pac-12 in passing offense, establish the run game against what ranks as the league's worst rush defense? And can Price, who passed for 277 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Cats last year, again find success through the air against the UA pass defense which is surrendering nearly 300 yards per game?
Arizona's offensive playmakers Matt Scott, Ka'Deem Carey and Austin Hill will set out to continue their stellar seasons as some notable single season top-10 charts may come within reach in the coming weeks. This will be the Wildcats' final crack at a north division foe before gearing up for a five-week stretch against Pac-12 South rivals to close the regular season.
Last week, Arizona enjoyed its much-welcomed bye week, which came at the midpoint of the 12-game regular season, and utilized the extra days to refocus on the fundamentals, all while trying to get healthy for the stretch run of conference play.
The Cats last played on Oct. 6, dropping an overtime contest, 54-48, at then-No. 18 Stanford. It was the third-straight week – and fourth in five weeks – that the UA went toe-to-toe with a nationally ranked foe, a brutal stretch that left the Cats 3-3 after six matchups.
Against the Cardinal, Scott passed for the third-most yards in school history (491) and set school and Pac-12 Conference records with 45 completions on 69 attempts, including an astonishing 35 throws in the second quarter alone and 41 in the opening half. Hill was the primary benefactor of the passing frenzy, grabbing a career-high 11 passes for another career high of 165 yards and two touchdowns.
While not balanced, the UA also got productivity out of its rushing game as Carey went for 132 yards and three touchdowns against what had been the league's top-ranked rushing defense. The offensive production – 617 total yards – was impressive against a stout defense, especially considering the Cats were without stalwarts Trace Biskin and Kyle Quinn along the O-line.
In the end, the Wildcats could neither hold on nor outscore the Cardinal. Stanford trailed by 14 points in the fourth quarter before scoring touchdowns on its final three possessions.
Quarterback Josh Nunes' 1-yard run with 6:34 remaining sparked the comeback, before the SU defense forced a rare three-and-out for the Cats' offense. Nunes then led the Cardinal back down the field on the ensuing drive, converting a pair of fourth downs, before the signal caller punched in a 3-yard run for the tying score after Jordan Williamson's extra point was good with 45 seconds left.
Arizona's only turnover in a school and conference-record 103 plays came on its last play, when a Scott pass was deflected and intercepted by Chase Thomas on UA's opening possession of overtime. Then the Cardinal put an exclamation mark on a fine comeback with Stepfan Taylor's 21-yard game-winning touchdown on the second play of SU's overtime possession.
Up Next: Arizona will stay at home to take on No. 10 USC on Oct. 27. The game will be televised on a regional basis by ABC at 12:30 p.m. MST. For those who do not get the game on the ABC regional broadcast, it will be shown on a reverse mirror on ESPN2 to the rest of the country.
Thereafter, the Wildcats hit the road for a Nov. 3 game at UCLA. Start time and television information is expected to be announced on Oct. 22.