1. @Toledo: Arizona is yet to win a non-conference road game under Stoops. Some have been understandable losses (@Iowa, @LSU) and some inexcusable (@New Mexico). A loss here would clearly fall in the second camp.
NOTE: I used Phil Steele’s amazing guide to help me with my forecasts.
LAST TIME (2008): Arizona beat Toledo 41-16 in Tucson in a game that was never close.
FORECAST: Arizona has a knack for losing games it should win. Last year, Arizona managed to avoid that trap (though was completely punchless vs. Nebraska). Arizona should win this one by a wide margin.
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 90%
2. Citadel: The Citadel is a weak FCS school.
LAST TIME: Arizona and the Citadel have never played.
FORECAST: Arizona last lost to a FCS team in 1950. This game won’t be a threat to break that streak. The Citadel is not a good team and this game will be little more than a glorified practice.
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 99.99%
3. Iowa: Iowa is a legitimate threat to win the Big 10. They will also likely start the season in the top 10. This is a very tough game.
LAST TIME: Arizona’s D kept the game close for the first half but was not helped by a completely inept offense lead by Matt Scott. Foles took over for Scott in this game and hasn’t looked back.FORECAST: Arizona has a few things going for them in this game that they didn’t have last year: The game is in Tucson where Arizona tends to be tougher; there is an experienced QB leading the offense; and, Iowa has a rebuilt O-line facing Arizona’s very tough DEs. None-the-less, you have to favor Iowa to win this one though the game should be very competitive.
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 40%
4. California: Arizona-California games almost never go as expected, but the home team is almost always the one to walk away from the game (5-0 last five years).
LAST TIME: A favored Arizona struggled through a game against a suddenly revived Cal-D. Arizona blew its chance by knocking itself out of field goal range with Foles’s double pass, then let Vereen run in for an easy score after a turn-over. Arizona lost 24-16.
FORECAST: The home team almost always wins and there is no real reason to suspect that will be different this time. Cal is a talented team, but very inconsistent and thus hard to get a handle on but the odds should favor Arizona.
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 65%
5. Oregon State: Arizona ends a three game homestand that will likely define their season with this game.
LAST TIME: Arizona and OSU dueled it out in a fairly close game which Arizona narrowly won. It was Foles’ first game as a starter.
FORECAST: OSU always plays better than the look on paper, and they have the Rodgers brothers making them and extremely dangerous team. However, OSU has a few flaws that favor Arizona in this one. OSU is starting a new QB this year and Arizona has one of the better secondaries and OSU has a suspect secondary against one of the better passing attacks. If Arizona’s LBs aren’t up for the job Jaquizz could make it a long day though…
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 60%
6. @Washington State: Washington State was one of the worst teams in college football last year. There is no reason to suspect they won’t continue to be one of the worst.
LAST TIME: Arizona scored 3 seconds into the start of the game and proceeded to score on its next six possessions. WSU scored a garbage TD in the middle of the fourth to make the final 48-7.
FORECAST: Wazzu should improve somewhat, but only because there was no further down to go. This is a bad team that will continue to be bad for a long time. Arizona should not struggle at all in this one.
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 100%
7. Washington: In 2008 Washington went 0-12, they seem like a lock for a bowl game this year.
LAST TIME: Despite outgaining Washington 461-256 and holding a 26-14 first down ratio Arizona lost on fluke play where the ball supposedly bounced off a WR’s foot and was returned for a TD.
FORECAST: Washington never should’ve gone 0-12, they have always had talent. Locker is one of the best QBs in college football. Washington still has some holes, especially on D. Expect a high-scoring game with Arizona favored.
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 65%
8. @UCLA: Arizona has won 4-straight against UCLA, a school-record streak. UCLA made a bowl game last year despite only beating the Washington schools and ASU in league play.
LAST TIME: UCLA forced 5 turnovers against Arizona, but the offense couldn’t make anything of them. Despite the turnovers Arizona won comfortably 27-13.
FORECAST: UCLA has a solid defense, but there are still big questions on the offensive side of the ball. QB play is inconsistent. The O-line should improve, but will still only be average at best. Arizona can’t rely on UCLA’s offense being that bad again, but as long as they get consistent play on both sides should win.
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 75%
9. @Stanford: For some reason, Arizona has struggled against Stanford in the Mike Stoops era.
LAST TIME: In a back and forth game, Arizona managed to win after Nic Grigsby ran for a 57 yard TD on 3rd and 17 late in the 4th.
FORECAST: Stanford has a dynamic QB coupled with one of the fastest WR/KRs in the country in Owusu. However, Stanford lost Gerhart which may expose their less athletic defense due to a lack of ball control. If Stanford can maintain its run game it will be very dangerous, especially if Arizona’s LBs are up to snuff. This one is a tossup.
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 50%
10. USC: USC is currently appealing NCAA sanctions which could knock them out of the post-season, the potential outcome could affect this game. USC also has a new and mostly unproven coach.
LAST TIME: Arizona won a defensive struggle in LA on a Criner 36 yard TD reception near the end of the 4th. It was their first win over USC in the Stoops era.
FORECAST: Despite its struggles last year, USC still boasts the most impressive array of talent in the league. Arizona is helped by the fact that they beat USC last year (giving them more confidence) and that the game is at Arizona. Any way you slice it would be a tough win.
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 45%
11. @Oregon: Oregon would the odds on favorite to win the Pac if they could stay out of jail. But a very tumultuous offseason saw them lose their starting QB to criminal charges. Still Oregon boasts impressive talent at virtually every position. Statistically they had the best defense in league play* as well as an extremely potent offense.
LAST TIME: Arizona and Oregon put on a double-overtime track meet (both teams combined for exactly 1,000 yards) which Oregon ended up winning 44-41.FORECAST: Arizona and Oregon both apparently forget how to place defense when they meet. Expect an extremely high scoring game with lots of big plays. The game is at Autzen which gives a definite advantage to Oregon. Expect Oregon to be favored.
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 35%
12. ASU: Arizona and ASU have a very bitter rivalry. Even when nothing is riding on the game, pride is a major motivator
LAST TIME: ASU held Arizona’s offense in check for most of the game and stage a comeback in the 2nd half to tie the game at 17. But a muffed punt allowed Arizona to kick the winning field goal as time expired.
FORECAST: ASU has an extremely tough road to a bowl game, needing to win 7 games against a very tough schedule because they play 2 FCS schools. There is a decent likelihood that ASU will be eliminated from bowl contention when this game is played. That is unlikely to matter that much. ASU has a solid D, but one that can play out of control and just graduated most of its leadership. The offense was bad last year and looks to improve but without better play from the O-line ASU will struggle. The game being at Arizona also gives Arizona an advantage. Arizona should be expected to win this game.
ODDS OF AN ARIZONA WIN: 75%
*Yes, I know ASU had the better statistics over the whole season, but they played Idaho State, Louisiana-Munroe and Georgia while Oregon played Boise State, Utah and Purdue. You can fill in the gaps. League play is a more fair comparison.