The bottom line? Both teams are evenly matched in the run game. Advantages? It’s a home game for the Huskies, and they have a lot of weapons throwing the ball. Arizona doesn’t. And, there’s payback for last year’s beatdown in the desert.
But first of all, let’s compare the teams each has played in their first three games so far.
Both AZ and UW played an FCS Big Sky team. AZ easily beat a decent Northern Arizona team (35-0) that was 8-3 in 2012. UW crushed Idaho State (56-0). Although Idaho State won their first two games this year, they were 1-10 last year. So, AZ played the tougher Big Sky Team, but they were both huge shutouts so there's little to conclude from either game.
For the other two games. Both AZ and UW played a Mountain West team. UW manhandled #19 Boise State (38-6), a team that coming into the game had won 129 of its last 144 games (.896 win%) going back to 2002, including two undefeated seasons (2006 when they beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, and 2009 when they beat #4 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl).
AZ beat UNLV 58-13. UNLV was 2-11 last year. UW clearly had the better win against the perennial Mountain West Champions.
The last game comparison: UW at Illinois and UTSA at Arizona
QB Nathan Scheelhaase and the Illini had just beaten Cincinatti 45-7, and were 2-0 coming into the game. UW wins over this much improved Big Ten team at Chicago's Soldier Field (34-24).
AZ beat Texas-San Antonio (UTSA), a Conference USA team starting its third year in existence, 38-13 at home.
In two of the three games,, the Huskies played and soundly beat much stronger teams. The Wildcats also won each of their games easily, but its defense gave up 13 points each to UTSA and UNLV. Not a huge deal, but may indicate a problem against high-powered PAC-12 offenses, including UW.
Carey was the nation's leading rusher last year with 303 carries for 1929 yds and 23 rushing TD). Sankey had 289 carries for 1439 yds and 16 rushing TD.
In the first three games this year, Carey has 43 carries for 299 yds and 4 TD. Sankey has 64 carries for 446 yds and 4 TD.
AZ also has Daniel Jenkins putting up excellent rushing yards, and QB B.J Denker is always a big run threat. UW has backup RB's Jesse Callier and Dwayne Washington putting up good numbers too. In the run game there's no clear advantage for either team.
However, the Huskies have a clear advantage throwing the ball. Keith Price looks really good this year, completing 77% of his passes (67 of 87) for 879 yards, 7 TD, 1 INT, and he only played 1.5 quarters of their third game against Idaho State.
Arizona's B.J. Denker is 31 of 55 for 326 yds (56.4 CMP%) with 2 TD and no INT. He has also run the ball 40 times for 224 yds and 5 TD. Although AZ runs the ball on over 70% of their plays and haven't really had to pass much so far, Denker doesn't compare to Price in the air.
Three Husky receivers have roughly 200 yds: Kasen Williams (11 catches for 204 yds, 1 TD), Kevin Smith (11 for 201, 0 TD),and Jaydon Mickens (20 for 199, 1 TD). Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a beast, but hasn't been much of a factor in the two games he's played (8 for 70, 1 TD). Two of the three catches by Josh Perkins resulted in 2 TD, and John Ross has 6 catches for 100 yds, including a 57 yd catch & run TD (mostly the latter).
Arizona's receivers? Well, only one, Garic Wharton, has over 100 yds with no TD. They only have 2 passing TD so far.
Total offense: UW has 911 yds rushing and 976 passing (1887 total yds, 629/game avg). AZ has 967 yds rushing and 326 passing (1293 total yds, 431/game avg). The Huskies have outgained the Wildcats by 594 total yards (198/game avg), and against better teams. So when you factor in the pass game, UW is the clear favorite.
The only question is: whose defense can more effectively stop the run?
Probably the biggest advantage overall is the home game in Husky Stadium. It's going to be packed and it's going to be loud.
If you’re betting your own hard-earned money, you have to pick the Dawgs to win straight up. If they lose, of course, none of this evaluation will have mattered and the Huskies will be back to their same old ways: losing games they should have won.