Arizona, coming off a 7-6 season, is favored by 12 points by most Las Vegas oddsmakers with the over/under sitting at 60.5. So BYU, which went 4-9 last year, will try to play the role of spoiler at Arizona Stadium.
Here are our score predictions. Be sure to leave yours in the comment section below.
Brian Pedersen — Arizona wins 26-16
Most of the first games for new Arizona coaches over the last 50 years haven’t been works of art and I’m expecting that trend to continue. The uncertainty about the offensive line will lead to some sloppy play when the Wildcats have the ball, and the desire to have Khalil Tate develop as a passer will have him try to stay in the pocket more instead of taking off right away.
Thankfully, BYU’s offense isn’t anything to be too worried about. In fact it’s probably the ideal opponent for Arizona to start against to show that its defense is much-improved. The Cougars had at least two turnovers eight times last year, so don’t be surprised if one of the Wildcats’ TDs comes on defense.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 35-24
I think Arizona staggers out of the gate thanks to some first-game jitters, but will really start to take command in third quarter when the running game will finally start to crack the large Cougar defense.
While Khalil Tate will surely provide some highlight plays, the thing I’m most interested in seeing is how the offensive line fares and how improved Arizona’s defense looks. It wouldn’t be surprising if Arizona’s offense struggles since it is breaking in five new starters on the offensive line, including a true freshman at left tackle in Donovan Laie.
BYU’s offense was bad last year, ranking 124th in the country in scoring, so I’m not too concern about the UA defense in this one, though it would obviously be a bad sign if it gets torched.
Jason Bartel — Arizona wins 45-27
After going 4-9 last year, I don’t really see BYU as a threat other than the fact that they have an experienced quarterback. But I also think Arizona’s defense has fewer question marks heading into the season than it has in a while.
I see Khalil Tate and the Wildcats getting out to a big lead early in the third quarter, and then when some new guys start getting some run on defense, BYU scores a late ten points to make it a respectable final score.
Zant Reyez — Arizona wins 34-24
I think the ‘Cats will start a little slow, but get the engine running in the second quarter and ride off with a week one win.
The biggest things I’ll be looking at are the 0-line and how much Khalil Tate will mask the weakness the O-line has heading into this season. I also want to see how much Tate has improved as a passer. We know he can create highlight runs, but just think of how even more dangerous he’ll be if his passing is improved.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 30-17
Not much really to say. Arizona is more athletic and talented than BYU. It’ll be close to start, but Arizona will wear the Cougar down and pull away. Plus it’s the first game of the Kevin Sumlin era...at home. What’s not to love?
Alec Sills-Trausch — Arizona wins 35-14
The crowd will be fanatical to begin the game and this will prove to buoy the team to a fast start. Tate will put on his usual display of shocking highlights and Arizona keeps BYU at an arm’s length. Hopefully the offensive line plays better than a D grade. If it doesn’t, that could make this game interesting. Let’s see what happens.
Gabe Encinas — Arizona wins 31-20
The offensive line absolutely terrifies me right now until Layth Friekh comes back. I’m not sure how much the offense can do without stability at that position, even with Khalil Tate being able improvise.
BYU proves themselves in defense and it seemed like teams were doing a better job of containing Khalil Tate once they got film on him. Their offense was mediocre last year and like Arizona’s defense there’s no way it gets worse.
I think this game stays relatively close throughout but Arizona finally puts it away late for a 1-0 start to the Kevin Sumlin era before heading to Houston.
Christopher Boan — Arizona wins 31-10
It’s hard to know what to expect from the Stormin’ Mormons of BYU under second-year Coach Kalani Sitake. On one hand, the Cougs pretty much have to be better than they were in 2017, when they went 4-9 and lost to heavyweights like UMass and East Carolina—who combined to win seven games last year. Arizona should be able to roll up points, with Khalil Tate and Shun Brown teaming up to tear apart a Cougars defense that surrendered 147.6 rushing yards and 372.8 total yards per game last season.
I’m not convinced that the Wildcats’ offensive line is in good enough shape to allow Arizona to break 50, but believe they’ll cruise to victory in their first game of the season.