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Here are three things to watch in the Arizona Wildcats’ season finale against Arizona State in Tempe (Saturday, 2 p.m., Pac-12 Networks), plus a score prediction and some pertinent preview links:

1. UNFORCED ERRORS

Even with some regulars banged up, Arizona State has a talent advantage over Arizona. But the Sun Devils share a self-destructive tendency with the Wildcats. They’re two of the most penalized teams in the nation. The side that can avoid, or at least minimize, unforced errors most likely will prevail. We’re talking mainly about the false starts and other pre-snap infractions that have plagued both clubs of late. Both want to avoid long-yardage situations that put undue pressure on their quarterbacks. We asked Pac-12 Networks analyst Yogi Roth to outline a plan for Arizona to pull off an upset. This was part of his response: “They can’t have bad false starts that kill drives or personal fouls or holding penalties or special-teams errors. On the flip side, they have to take advantage if they get those. They have to score off a turnover. They have to get a three-and-out if Arizona State has a penalty on an early down.” The Wildcats have only six takeaways this season. But one of them was a pick-six. They also have a blocked-punt touchdown and two safeties. Something of that order would aid the Cats’ cause immeasurably.

2. ‘WE REMEMBER’

As you know, Jedd Fisch wasn’t the coach the last Arizona and ASU met. He had nothing to do with that calamity. That didn’t stop Fisch from saying the following in regard to the rivalry: “There's an obvious animosity toward one another. Clearly, when it's 63-7 and you call a pass on fourth-and-4, there's something to that. So we remember.” We remember? That’s like George Bailey taking the blame for Uncle Billy losing the bank deposit. Anyway, the sequence Fisch referenced happened in the fourth quarter of last year’s game. Walk-ons and backups were in for both sides. The fourth-and-4 took place at the UA 25-yard line. Would kicking a field goal have been more honorable? Running the ball? Does it matter that the quarterback was Trenton Bourguet, who had never played before and is from Marana? The Wildcats don’t really need any more bulletin-board material when they already have billboard material. That said, we expect the game to be intense, at least as long as it’s competitive. And we expect Fisch to dig deep into his bag of trick plays.

3. THE END

Arizona’s season will conclude Saturday. So will the college careers of several good players who deserved better than having to endure a school-record losing streak. We can’t get to everybody, so let’s spotlight a handful: Center Josh McCauley has been a durable warrior, a consistently accurate snapper and an underappreciated leader of the offense. ... Like McCauley, receiver Stanley Berryhill III began his UA career as a walk-on. He has become the Wildcats’ best player and has a chance to make in the NFL as a receiver/special-teams ace. ... Guard Donovan Laie, who’s expected to go pro, is cut from the same cloth as McCauley. Laie will do whatever it takes to help his team and teammates. ... Tight end Bryce Wolma has been a good solider and team leader no matter how big or small his role in the offense. Fisch needs to get him the rock Saturday. ... Defensive tackle Trevon Mason can be a game-wrecker when he’s at his best. We’d be surprised if he wasn’t drafted. ... Defensive end Jalen Harris has improved so much over the course of his career. Ignore the sack totals. Just watch him play. ... Linebacker Anthony Pandy has given his all for his school. You should have seen how much pain he was in when he spoke to the media after the USC game (the one in which he had the pick-six). Much respect for that sacrifice. ... Kicker Lucas Havrisik has a bionic leg. He never quite put it all together. Booting the winner against ASU would be a heck of a way to go out.

FINAL SCORE: Arizona 26, Arizona State 24

PREVIEW LINKS:

Game advanceArizona seeks to avenge humiliating loss to ASU in Territorial Cup

Greg Hansen'Mr. Football' on ASU's big billboard, the Wildcats' revenge — and who wins Saturday's rivalry game

StorylinesOn the QB matchup, Don Brown’s greatest hits and MVP running backs

RecruitingChester Burnett and his football family find their way back to the UA

Field PassEverything you need to know about Saturday's Territorial Cup game

Cats StatsWho will win the Territorial Cup? These numbers could determine the outcome

 
 

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Contact sports reporter Michael Lev at 573-4148 or mlev@tucson.com. On Twitter @michaeljlev 

This article originally ran on tucson.com.

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