The Arizona Wildcats (1-1) will host the Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-0) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. MST on ESPN.
The Raiders enter as slight road favorites, and this game has huge implications on Arizona’s season.
Here are some things to watch for, and here is how our staff thinks the game will shake out. Be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Ronnie Stoffle — Texas Tech wins 42-24
This won’t be a popular prediction among the Wildcat Faithful and it pains me to put in writing. I can honestly see just about any outcome ranging from an Arizona blow out to Arizona getting blown out with anything in between. This one just feels the most probable as it’s usually safe to assume a Marcel Yates defense will allow at least 35 points to an offense like this. Moreover, I’m concerned with the matchup of UA’s young/inexperienced receivers against the secondary of Texas Tech. I hope I’m wrong.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 41-38
I have no idea why I have a feeling Arizona will win this game, but I do. Maybe it’s because this will be Texas Tech’s first game against a Power-5 opponent as well as its first time playing away from home, and that could be a recipe for disaster or, at least, a slow start.
I do think the game will go as advertised, though—a high-scoring shootout in which the team that gets a timely stop or turnover will come out on top.
TTU’s defense statistically has been good so far, but that comes with the major caveat that it hasn’t played anyone remotely decent.
And having to face two explosive players like Khalil Tate and J.J. Taylor in their first real test is not exactly ideal.
Gabe Encinas — Texas Tech wins 49-34
Marcel Yates has given me no reason to believe that he can stop a high-powered passing offense. For that reason, I’m out.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 52-48
Arizona is at a crossroads, not just in this season but in the Kevin Sumlin era. Lose to Texas Tech and you can pretty much kiss any bowl game good bye this year, and for a coach taking over a program to miss out on the postseason in his first two seasons (after replacing a coach who went bowling in six of seven seasons) is not a good look.
Texas Tech is about the worst opponent the Wildcats could be facing at this point, with their defense completely unable to stop anyone, but that’s the hand they’ve been dealt.
Somehow, some way, Arizona wins this game. And it will probably happen in the final minute.
Christian Mortensen — Arizona wins 42-38
It’s never a good thing to be in a must-win situation just three games into a season, but that’s exactly the spot Arizona finds itself in this weekend against Texas Tech.
If the Wildcats fail to beat the Red Raiders on Saturday night to fall to 1-2, a bowl game would probably already be out of the question (barring a miraculous, unexpected run against a tough conference schedule) and Kevin Sumlin would find himself at just 6-9 in his first 15 games in Tucson.
For reference, Mike Stoops started out 4-11, while Rich Rodriguez went 10-5.
Like everyone else, I expect a high scoring affair against Tech, but I also expect Arizona’s defense to get more pressure on their sophomore quarterback, Andy Bowman, than it did against either Hawaii or NAU.
Doing so against the Red Raiders’ pass-heavy offense was something that multiple players keyed in on during the Wildcats’ midweek press conferences, and if they can actually start applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks it could be a turning point for the embattled defensive unit.
I know I’m being extremely optimistic (again), but for some reason or another I really think the UA will put on its best defensive performance of the season against Texas Tech (not too hard to accomplish if we’re being honest) and will ride another strong offensive outing to a huge win to get to 2-1 before the start of conference play.
Scott Moran — Texas Tech wins 44-38
Another game full of points is on the docket for Arizona this week, and no matter who wins it should be a fun watch.
This game is a huge litmus test for Arizona. With a win, a bowl is feasible. But a loss and 3-9 is totally on the table. A lot of people don’t realize that Tech’s defense did improve from abysmal to merely mediocre in Kliff Kingsbury’s last couple of years at Tech, but he still couldn’t string wins together. I think Matt Wells can string those wins together for the Raiders, especially with his more balanced offense, and UA will be his first big victory.
Expect a back-and-forth thriller, but expect Arizona to make one or two too many mistakes (particularly on defense). If the Wildcats coaching staff can wring out a close win here against a better team at home, I will be fairly impressed, and I hope to see it happen.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 52-42
Talk about a big game and a fun matchup! A pair of similar teams will take the field Saturday in Tucson, and the expectation is points aplenty. Odds are good we’ll get that, as Arizona’s defense can’t stop anybody and Texas Tech has yet to play anybody. Both teams have good offenses, and this is the kind of game that will come down to whose makes the fewest amount of mistakes.
It will be Arizona coming out with a win that will satisfy fans and serve as a springboard for the rest of the season.
For me, the difference in this game comes down to Arizona having actually faced some adversity this season in the form of a competitive opponent (Texas Tech has not), though the biggest reason I’m taking the Wildcats is because they are at home.