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College football bowl projections: Las Vegas looking more likely for Arizona

One Sin City pairing would reunite Wildcats with a former coach

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arizona-wildcats-football-college-bowl-projections-las-vegas-maryland-kevin-sumlin-sun-alamo-holiday Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The college football bowl season begins in just over a month, and as of now almost nothing is certain. But when it comes to the most likely destination for Arizona’s first bowl game in six years, Sin City is giving the best odds for its destination.

Three of six major outlets are projecting the Wildcats to play in the Las Vegas Bowl, which is set for Dec. 23 at Allegiant Stadium. That’s where they played their first game under Jedd Fisch, a loss to BYU, and where the Pac-12 title game is being held on Dec. 1.

19th-ranked Arizona (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12) is still in the hunt for a berth in that game, needing to win its final two contests and get some help from a few other schools. Getting into the conference final, and winning it, would open the door for the UA to land in one of the New Year’s Six bowls like it did in 2014 when it played in the Fiesta Bowl after reaching the Pac-12 championship.

The Wildcats first have to beat No. 16 Utah (7-3, 4-3) on Saturday in their home finale before any real consideration can be made for a conference title game appearance. For now, all that’s certain is a bowl bid, and below are where they’re being projected to go:

Action Network: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Maryland (Dec. 23)

ESPN: Holiday Bowl vs. NC State (Dec. 27)

CBS Sports: Alamo Bowl vs. Oklahoma (Dec. 28)

Athlon Sports: Sun Bowl vs. Miami (Dec. 29)

Fox Sports: Las Vegas vs. Illinois

247Sports: Las Vegas vs. Nebraska

Arizona has played in each of these games at least once, though its last trip to El Paso for the Sun Bowl was in 1992.

Of all the projected matchups, the one against Maryland would provide the most notable storyline because of the presence of a former Arizona head coach on the Terrapins’ staff. Kevin Sumlin is their co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach and is still with the program despite being cited for DUI last month in Florida.

Sumlin was fired in December 2020 the day after Arizona lost 70-7 to ASU in the Territorial Cup, completing a COVID-shortened 0-5 season. He was 9-20 in his three years preceding Jedd Fisch, who since losing his first eight games in 2021 is 13-13.

Playing in Vegas would also mean UA fans would have the opportunity to pull a basketball/football doubleheader. The men’s basketball team takes on Florida Atlantic at T-Mobile Arena on Dec. 23, a 1 p.m. MT tipoff, with the Las Vegas Bowl set for 5:30 p.m. MT.