BYU beat the UA on a last-second field goal in Glendale, Arizona in 2016, but oddsmakers don’t think the 2018 rematch in Tucson will be as close.
The Wildcats opened as 14-point favorites, per Odds Shark, but they have dropped to 13-point favorites in the last couple days — still a healthy spread.
Arizona went 7-6 in 2017, but is expected to compete for a Pac-12 South title in 2018, given the return of Heisman candidate quarterback Khalil Tate, a new (and hopefully improved) coaching staff, and the seasoning of a young, but promising, defense.
The Cougars went 4-9 in 2017 after back-to-back nine-wins seasons. It was BYU’s first losing season since 2004.
The Cougars are usually known for their high-powered offense, but they struggled mightily on that side of the ball in 2017, averaging just 17.1 points per game.
BYU returns three quarterbacks that were unimpressive a season ago and adds freshman Zach Wilson, a former three-star who recruit who had a strong showing in the spring.
Tanner Mangum threw for 23 touchdowns as a freshman in 2015, but has had trouble staying healthy since then, and is coming off an Achilles injury suffered last November.
SB Nation’s Bill Connolly projects BYU as the No. 78 team in the country, factoring in its recent history, returning production, and recruiting. Arizona checks in at No. 33.
The Wildcats are 12-10-1 all-time vs. BYU, and should be 13-10-1 after September 1 if the oddsmakers are right.
If BYU pulls off the upset? Arizona would have to beat Houston on the road in Week 2 to avoid an 0-2 start.