Fresh off a bye, the Arizona Wildcats bring their FBS-worst 16-game losing streak into a matchup with the UCLA Bruins at Arizona Stadium.
Arizona (0-4, 0-1) has won the last two meetings at home with UCLA, which is 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the Pac-12.
How will the UA’s Pac-12 home opener go? Here’s what our staff thinks:
Brandon Combs — UCLA wins 38-31
This will be a close game. Jordan McCloud should be more comfortable and perform better after being named the starter before the bye week. For me it’s if the defense can stop UCLA’s running backs and contain DTR on scrambles.
I think Arizona will lead at some point but I think that the defense will give up one big play to put the Bruins back in it and they will score late to take the lead and win.
Now, I can see UA pulling off the win but I can see them losing too. This will be a hard fought game, but I’m picking UCLA to win late.
Kim Doss — UCLA wins 40-27
I think Jordan McCloud will be much improved after a start and a bye week, but "much improved" is a relative term. Securing the ball will make all the difference, and I am not sure I feel comfortable enough with his last performance in that regard to predict the upset. Baby steps are what I am looking for.
Gabe Encinas - UCLA wins 44-31
I think Jordan McCloud gives this team a chance to win. We’ve seen the trifecta of starting quarterbacks, as I expected prior to the season, but McCloud by far looks to be the best option.
I can look past those turnovers against Oregon when it you consider its his first start at Arizona, on the road against a top three team, and he still moved the ball far better than Gunnar Cruz or Will Plummer.
I think we’ll see quite a bit of offense and it’ll turn out to be another competitive game. Maybe I’m just hopeful since I’ll be there, but I’m also prepared for the pain of a 17-game losing streak.
Ronnie Stoffle — UCLA wins 34-20
It’ll be interesting to see Jordan McCloud coming off the bye week as the de facto starter with those dedicated snaps in practice. If the offensive line plays well again, you can trust the defense to keep things calm enough for the offense to make this a competitive game.
I’m not sure that Arizona will be able to pull off the upset but I do believe they cover the 16 point spread. Don’t forget the Wildcats are 2-2 against the spread this year and this one is at home.
Adam Green — UCLA wins 37-23
If you want to talk yourself into thinking Arizona will win this game, I’m not going to stop you. If Jordan McCloud can repeat his performance from the Oregon game, minus the interceptions, the Cats will move the ball and likely score a good amount of points. Combine that with a defense that has been solid and you have a competitive team, one that is well rested after a bye and could beat a UCLA squad that is coming off a tough home loss.
Then again, the Wildcats have lost 16 straight games and they are more than two touchdown underdogs for a reason.
The concern is up until last week, UCLA’s defense was pretty stout. They paired that with an offense that can run the ball, has elite talent at the TE position and is led by a quarterback who can hurt you with both his arm and his legs. I have visions of Arizona looking like they are going to bring DTR down in the backfield, only to see him take off and pick up 20 or more yards.
In summary, Arizona has every chance and opportunity to be competitive, but I just can’t see them ending the losing streak Saturday night.
Ezra Amacher — UCLA wins 40-28
Arizona enters Saturday with the third worst turnover margin in the nation. For the Wildcats to pull off the upset, they’ll have to play their first clean game of the year. UCLA’s run-heavy offense is going to wear down the UA defense over time, so giving the Bruins any extra possessions in good field position is a death knell.
Arizona’s offense averages the third fewest points among all Power 5 programs. Even with Jordan McCloud well rested and well prepared, it's hard to see the Wildcats scoring enough points to come out ahead. A two possession ballgame would be a win in many ways.
Brian J. Pedersen — UCLA wins 33-20
Arizona has had an extra week to game plan for UCLA, while the Bruins are trying to regroup from a frustrating home loss to ASU. That should give the Wildcats a little bit of an edge in terms of preparation, which may bode well for the start of the game. But then again, the UA has looked its worst at the beginning of games, almost as if its game week practices don’t focus enough on the opponent.
This isn’t a good matchup for Arizona, since UCLA runs the ball well and is great at pressuring the passer. The Wildcats will find a way to make it somewhat interesting, but as far as getting that elusive first win the focus should be entirely on next week at Colorado.