In his New Year’s Six bowl predictions, SI’s Max Meyer has Arizona facing Ohio State in the Granddaddy of Them All.
And while Meyer has Washington being the Pac-12’s College Football Playoff representative (the Rose Bowl is not a CFP playoff game this year), he also listed Arizona as his “under-the-radar team that will emerge as a surprise playoff contender.”
As Gordon Gekko famously said in Wall Street, “Blue Horseshoe loves Khalil Tate.” Or something like that. Arizona’s electric dual-threat signal-caller lit the college football world on fire last year, tearing apart Pac-12 defenses week after week. The Wildcats hired quarterback whisperer Kevin Sumlin as their new head coach, and that should help boost Tate’s potential through the air. Between Tate and junior tailback J.J. Taylor, Arizona could have the most dangerous backfield in the country. The Wildcats were also gifted an incredible schedule: They avoid Washington and Stanford, and they get USC and Oregon in Tucson. Don’t be surprised to see Arizona flirt with 10 wins.
Not everyone feels the same way, though.
SI’s Joan Niesen doesn’t think Arizona will live up to the hype this season, listing the Wildcats as her “Power 5 team that will be the biggest disappointment.”
What an easy way to immediately anger a fan base—sorry in advance, Wildcats fans. I think Arizona has so much upside behind Khalil Tate at quarterback, but it ultimately won’t be able to live up to expectations in year one under Kevin Sumlin. Visions of Johnny Manziel 2.0 are playing through fans’ imaginations, and no matter how good Tate is, Arizona’s defense won’t be able to hold up its end of the bargain. Even in a Pac-12 South that could produce a surprise champion, it won’t be Arizona.