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NAU vs. Arizona: Previewing the game by the numbers

A few FCS opponents have already scared or beaten FBS teams this season. Do the numbers indicate that NAU could do the same to Arizona this week?

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The Arizona Wildcats are playing the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks this weekend (the school up north from the school up north), so let's preview some of the important aspects of this game:


As Jason talked about earlier this week, NAU is ranked 24th in both major FCS polls. While it may be a little concerning that Arizona has to face a ranked FCS team, it's not as bad as it seems. Cal Poly, who kept it close against ASU on Saturday, is ranked 17th in the STATS FCS poll. Portland State, who beat Washington State, is ranked 19th. And Richmond, who lost to Maryland 50-21, is ranked 22nd. So while NAU might be a ranked team and a very good FCS team, a good FBS team (like Arizona) should still be able to handle them.


Arizona has a decisive historical advantage over NAU. Going into this year's game, the Wildcats have beaten the Lumberjacks 12 times. They have only lost once. That's a pretty decisive historical record amplified by the fact that Arizona has never lost to NAU in Tucson. I expect to see another Wildcats win added to that total this week.

Mid-six figures, probably

I have no idea how much NAU is getting paid to play this game against Arizona, but I'd guess it's somewhere in the mid-six figures based on how much some other FCS teams get paid to play FBS opponents. FCS teams often take money to play away games against FBS teams, which can make it particularly embarrassing when that FCS team wins the game and takes your money, too. Let's hope Arizona doesn't find itself in that position after this week.


Case Cookus, NAU's quarterback, is averaging an absurd 13.4 yards per attempt passing coming into this game. Though this is admittedly with a small sample size, that is extremely efficient. He hasn't turned the ball over, either, with zero interceptions so far this year and five passing touchdowns. Arizona will obviously be a tougher opponent than Stephen F. Austin or New Mexico Highlands, but that NAU passing game could pose some problems for the Wildcats.


There is no spread for this game. This is a little surprising - even Oregon/Georgia State has a posted line, with Oregon favored by 48.5. While I expect Arizona to be able to win this game decisively, I don't think the hypothetical line would be anywhere near that high. I would expect that Arizona should be favored in this game by 30 or so. The Wildcats still need to be careful - a Pac-12 team already lost as a 30+ point favorite to an FCS opponent this year - but Arizona can and should win this game handily.