After dropping their first two games of the season, the Arizona Wildcats return home to take on the Southern Utah Thunderbirds to wrap up non-conference play (8 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Networks).
Here is how we think the game will play out. Be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Brian Pedersen — Arizona wins 49-24
At this point an overtime victory against an FCS school will feel like progress. But truth be told, Arizona can’t just squeak by in this game; it has to dominate. The Wildcats have to put up a lot of points, particularly with big plays, to build any real momentum going into the Pac-12 opener next week at Oregon State. Speaking of OSU (and our sister site, Breaking the Dam), my predicted score is based on making sure Arizona can outdo the Beavers’ 48-25 result against Southern Utah.
Gabe Encinas — Arizona wins 41-21
It took three weeks, but I think Arizona gets their first win of the season. I’m not sure Arizona dominates Southern Utah like we would have thought, but a win is a win and Arizona needs those.
Zant Reyez — Arizona wins 35-28
A win is a win at this point for the ‘Cats. I do think, however, that if they struggle fans will abandon any hope (if there’s any left with them) at having a promising season. How much does Khalil Tate play if he still noticeably hurt? Does Kevin Sumlin risk playing Tate much if he’s not 100 percent? Will Dave Heeke weep when he sees the stadium with a lot of empty seats? There are a lot more questions than answers at this point for the team and Saturday’s game, most likely, will only add more questions.
Christopher Boan — Arizona wins 56-10
Arizona is really bad this year, thanks to a mediocre offensive line and a defense that somehow is even more abysmal. That said, Southern Utah just lost to two teams that no one, regardless of division, should lose to—Northern Alabama and Oregon State. Not only did the Thunderbirds lose to those two featherweights, but they lost with gusto—falling to NAU (not the Arizona one) 34-30, before letting OSU’s inept offense hang 48 points on them.
Expect Tate to suddenly look like his 2017 self, racking up rushing and passing touchdowns in what is for all intents and purposes a scrimmage for the Wildcats. Given the choice between mustering the strength to find this game (which kicks off at 8 p.m.) on the Pac-12 Network and going out for a drink, I’d choose the latter.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 42-14
The Wildcats will win this game, but I think they need to win big to inject some life back into the fanbase heading into the Pac-12 opener.
Ideally, you want to see Khalil Tate break off some big runs and the defense get its first sack(s) and turnover(s).
It will be interesting to see how many people show up, too. Since it’s a late kickoff and an FCS opponent, I would be shocked if Arizona Stadium nears the 51,000-mark it got against BYU.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 49-17
The new era has started off in a way that no one really expected. Everyone watched the games so no reason to beat a dead horse.
That being said, Arizona will easily win this game against the Thunderbirds and gain some momentum heading into conference play. This could be just what the doctor ordered for the ‘Cats to get more of the kinks worked out before they head to Corvallis to take on the Beavers.