College football season is finally here!
Looking to bounce back from a 5-7 season, the Wildcats are 11-point favorites with the over/under set at 74. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:39 p.m. MST on CBS Sports Network.
Here is how our staff envisions the game unfolding.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 37-24
All signs point to Arizona being able to win this game without much difficulty, but things are never that easy. Everyone has said the right things during training camp, there are no notable injuries and depth abounds all over the roster, what could go wrong? The key will be starting off well and making just enough stops on defense to head into the bye (!!!) with a quality victory.
Gabe Encinas — Arizona wins 34-24
I’m still somewhat nervous about this game. I have flashbacks of last year’s non-conference and Territorial Cup stuck in my mind. I also don’t like the team having to travel, especially to a place like a Hawaii, but I think Arizona gets a win that doesn’t cause any extreme panic or optimism. I’ll hammer the under, too.
Scott Moran — Arizona wins 44-35
If this game isn’t wacky as hell, I’ll be horribly disappointed. Luckily, it’s a 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff in Week 0 being played in Hawaii, so wackiness is on the table. Arizona can absolutely lose this game, and that would probably be a season-killer even in August, but they are the better team and I’m buying into the mild hype from camp. UA doesn’t cover but they win in a shootout, and that should be enough for some cautious optimism.
Ronnie Stoffle — Arizona wins 56-34
I probably shouldn’t get too overconfident with this one but I’m going there. My first thought was last season’s opener loss to BYU which was a monster disappointment. There can be parallels drawn between BYU and Hawaii, but BYU possesses much more talent on each side of the ball than Hawaii.
I certainly understand the “I want to see it before I buy in” or “road games are never sure things” narratives. The bottom line is Arizona is far more talented and they know they have a lot to prove after last season. I trust they’re going put on a show at Aloha Stadium.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 42-34
First thing’s first, the only thing that matters is Arizona coming out of this game with a win. Close game, blowout, something in between — it doesn’t matter. Just win. And they will.
However, to expect Arizona to win big on the road against a team that will be able to score some points is probably unreasonable. This game figures to be fairly close for a bit, and then Arizona will get a couple of stops (perhaps a turnover in there) and begin to pull away.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 41-30
Based on what we’ve seen from the Wildcats on the road under Sumlin so far, I expect them to come out a bit flat and fall behind by a touchdown early on—the long travel and heat and humidity don’t help—before settling in and winning by two scores.
For all the talk about how Arizona is going to slow down Hawaii’s offense, the Warriors have even more to prove in their pursuit of slowing down the Pac-12’s best rushing offense that will now feature a healthy Khalil Tate.
To me, that’s what I will be looking for the most in this one: how much Tate runs. There is no excuse for him not to surpass his best single-game rushing total from last year, which was a measly 46 yards.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 49-28
This is going to be an interesting contest. Hawai’i undoubtedly has a great offense. I’m intrigued to see how Arizona’s defense rises up to the challenge and contain Cole McDonald. There is a ton of experience returning to that side of the ball for UA so they shouldn’t have too many problems. The key will be pass rush, pass rush, pass rush.
I believe Arizona’s offense will be able to take care of business. The RB stable is the best I can ever remember and the WR group is probably the most exciting, granted without much experience.
I think it’ll be close at halftime before the ‘Cats are able to pull away in the second half.
Christian Mortensen — Arizona wins 38-28
Everyone else picked Arizona to win, and I’m going to continue that trend.
It seems like Hawaii’s biggest weakness is its defense (sounds familiar, right?), so I’ll be looking for Khalil and company to take advantage of that and make some good things happen early on to grab the momentum and quiet what should be a solid crowd.
Ultimately I think both offenses will have their moments and put some points on the board, before the UA’s defense comes up with some key stops in the fourth quarter to win it.