After a Week 0 loss to Hawaii and a bye, the Arizona Wildcats return to action Saturday at 7:45 p.m. MST when they will host their in-state brethren from Flagstaff, the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks.
The UA is 14-1 all-time against NAU, including a 13-game winning streak. How will the 2019 matchup play out? We made our predictions. Be sure to leave yours in the comment section below.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 51-21
Nobody realistically expects NAU to have a chance to win this game, which in and of itself isn’t saying much. But just how long the Lumberjacks are even in contention will speak volumes as far as how Arizona has responded to that embarrassing loss at Hawaii. Expect the Wildcats to keep their foot on the gas as much as possible on offense and also take some risks on defense, the latter in an effort to try and create some semblance of pressure on a (checks math) 12th-year senior quarterback in Case Cookus.
Gabe Encinas — Arizona wins 45-21
It’s NAU, so in theory it should not be a close game but after the past year of non-conference nothing would surprise me.
I think the defense will still allow a fair share of yardage and eventually points. And while I don’t think the offense goes insane 60-plus point performance, they’ll do just enough to to keep the game out of reach. They should still have to punt a good amount of times which isn’t totally bad considering you need someone to step up in that area and it’s better to search for a punter in week two than in week six.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 59-24
As I wrote on the site, this is a game that should not — better not — be close. The ‘Jacks bring some talent to Tucson, sure, but not nearly enough to be competitive against a Wildcats team that I believe probably isn’t as terrible as most of us are thinking right now.
So, assuming Arizona doesn’t trip over itself all game, I would expect the QBs (Khalil Tate and whoever gets time in the blowout) to look very good, with the skill guys finding room to run and plays to make. The defense will get some pressure on QB Case Cookus, and will otherwise look borderline competent in this one.
In other words, Arizona will do to NAU what Arizona should do to NAU. Whether it will actually mean anything, we’ll have to see.
Ronnie Stoffle — Arizona wins 52-20
If the final score of this game is within 21 points, it might feel like a loss. Regardless, UA will obviously win this game but it’s more about how the team, specifically the defense, looks after a disappointing Week 0.
My hope is the defense establishes a pass rush early, which will help set it up for the following week. The receivers are another area that I will closely watch. Jamarye Joiner had a strong first game. This will be a great opportunity to continue building momentum. How will Brian Casteel look, and is Boobie Curry healthy? Khalil Tate is developing rapport with this group and Saturday is an ideal situation for UA to further develop their passing game.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 56-27
This game should go as expected....should. I think the offense will do just fine, seeing the ball spread all over the place.
The defense will probably solidify a little, but I’m not sure if that’ll give us a good idea of the progress they’ve made before Texas Tech comes to town. I would expect more production out of the linebackers, which means I expect them to be used properly and not dropped back into coverage every play.
The defensive line and safeties are going to be the two groups I watch the most. I want to see the safety group bounce back from two weeks ago and shut down, for the most part, the middle of the field. As for the d-line—pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. I’m eager to see Jalen Harris and JB Brown wreak havoc off the edges and see some penetration in the middle.
All in all, Arizona should come out of this game on top and with a little momentum heading into the game against the Red Raiders.
Christian Mortensen — Arizona wins 55-14
Considering that Arizona hasn’t lost to NAU literally since the early 1930s, I have no doubt that the Wildcats will continue that trend and win on Saturday night.
However, while getting back in the win column after the Hawaii loss is obviously crucial, it’s even more important that the UA puts on an impressive performance against the Lumberjacks.
So, I’ll be looking closely to see if Arizona’s offense is consistently able to move the ball down the field and if they are actually capable of getting some stops on defense.
The offense shouldn’t have any problem holding up their end of the bargain, and I expect them to put up a bunch of points in a blowout victory, but it will ultimately be the Cats’ defense that will be under the biggest microscope.
If the defensive unit fails to inspire confidence for the second straight week (I don’t expect this to be the case), or even if this game is close in the second half (it better not be), questions over defensive coordinator Marcel Yates’ job security will grow ever louder.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 48-21
I’m not really sure if there is anything Arizona can do in this game to inspire any confidence that the ship will be righted. That will have to wait until the Texas Tech game.
That being said, the No. 1 thing I will be looking for in this game is a pass rush. If the Wildcats struggle to pressure the quarterback against NAU, who can they do it against?