Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate,perhaps the most exciting player in college football over the past three weeks,faces his toughest matchup to date Saturday as the Wildcats host No. 16 WashingtonState. A dual-threat sophomore, Tate is thefirst player to be named Pac-12 offensive player of the week three times in arow since USC quarterback Rodney Peete in 1988.
Tate has accounted for 11 touchdowns while rushing for 694 yards and passing for 468 over the last three games to lead the surprising Wildcats, who are one win away from bowl eligibility after being picked to finish last in the Pac-12 South. After running for 137 yards with a touchdown and passing for two more in last Saturday’s 45-44 double-overtime win over California, Tate looks to continue his hot streak against a stout Washington State defense that ranks third nationally against the pass, seventh in total defense, 21st in scoring defense and 24th in rushing yards per carry. The Cougars bounced back from a stunning 34-point loss to Cal by recording their second shutout of the season in last Saturday’s 28-0 win over Colorado. Quarterback Luke Falk, who threw for three scores in the victory, has won both of his previous matchups against Arizona while throwing for 825 yards with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: Washington State -3
ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12): The Cougars have given up more sacks than anyone else in the FBS this season (34), but Falk boasts a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 22-to-7 and sits 230 passing yards shy of becoming the Pac-12’s career leader. Wide receiver Tavares Martin Jr., who leads the team with 502 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, is expected to be active Saturday after being suspended for one game for a violation of team rules. Defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa enters the weekend as the Pac-12’s active leader in career tackles-for-loss (37.5) and career sacks (18.5) and will be a key part of the Cougars’ plan to keep Tate in check.
ABOUT ARIZONA (5-2, 3-1): The Wildcats, who are looking to avenge last season’s 69-7 loss to Washington State in Pullman, lead the Pac-12 in scoring (43.1), rushing (342.7) and fewest sacks allowed (0.71 per game). Freshman linebacker Colin Schooler was named Pac-12 defensive player of the week after breaking up the potential game-winning pass in the back of the end zone against Cal and finishing with a career-best 15 tackles. “He’s playing outstanding,” coach Rich Rodriguez told reporters. “He’s still making some mistakes like any freshman would, but he’s a good football player now, and he’s going to be really good in the next couple years.”
1. Washington State is 26-3 under coach Mike Leach when leading after three quarters.
2. Arizona has rushed for more than 150 yards in 13 straight games dating back to last season.
3. The Cougars are 18-3 when forcing multiple turnovers under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.
PREDICTION: Arizona 38, Washington State 35