The Arizona Wildcats are set to square off against the NAU Lumberjacks on Saturday as both teams open up their respective seasons.
Arizona is 13-1 all-time against NAU and 12-0 all-time against the Lumberjacks in Tucson.
Will NAU have any luck this season? Probably not, but the competitiveness of these games have varied year to year.
With that said, here are our staff’s predictions for Saturday’s game, which is set to begin at 8 p.m. MST and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 49-28
I don’t think this game will be as much of a laugher as it was the last time Arizona faced NAU — the Wildcats won 77-13 — because the Lumberjacks have legitimate talent on the offensive side of the ball, including sophomore quarterback Case Cookus who is the career passing efficiency leading in college football.
I expect Arizona’s young defense to surrender a lot of yards and points, but I also expect their offense to do the same to NAU, especially on the ground.
Jason Bartel — Arizona wins 52-34
I think this game ends with a closer score than what it feels like most of the night. Arizona will get out to a big lead, and then Case Cookus will pick up a couple late touchdowns as Rich Rodriguez gets some defensive guys down the depth chart extra playing time in the fourth quarter.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 56-28
I think that the Arizona defense will be tested some, especially the young guys. NAU does have some offensive weapons such as Emmanuel Butler and Case Cookus, but I think the defense will hold and help keep the Lumberjacks off the board enough to let the offense do work.
More younger and inexperienced players will come in during the second half, allowing NAU to score some points, but not enough for them to catch up to UA.
Gabe Encinas — Arizona wins 45-24
We’ve seen the depth chart and we know that Arizona’s defense is going to be making some freshman mistakes against a pretty solid quarterback. But overall, I think the defensive line is really going to step up and help alleviate that pressure from the freshmen a little better than most might expect.
On offense, Rich Rodriguez isn’t going to be showing a lot, we’re going to get a pretty basic playbook and that’s really all Brandon Dawkins and Khalil Tate should need to get the offense going and eventually get some younger guys reps.
While it’s not necessarily a 30-point win, Arizona will be in control of the game. It shouldn’t be a New Mexico State-Arizona State situation where everything is just bad, and that’s really all that matters when you’re rotating new guys in for Week One.
Alec Sills-Trausch — Arizona wins 52-16
Uncertainty is swirling around Arizona football to start the year but even that won't slow down the Wildcats as they take on their little brother from the north.
Few will actually watch this game with it being an 8 p.m. start but it'll be sure to produce some highlights worth watching Sunday morning.