The Arizona Wildcats will kick off the Jedd Fisch era on Saturday when they take on the BYU Cougars at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Coming off an 11-1 season, BYU is currently a 12.5-point favorite over the Wildcats, who have lost 12 straight games dating back to 2019.
Our preview can be found here, and below are our staff’s score predictions. Be sure to leave yours in the comment section below.
Brian J. Pedersen — BYU 28-13
It’s time to come back to reality.
The past nine months for Arizona football have been filled with plenty of positive moments, helping to at least partially scrub the memories of last season while providing a glimmer of hope for this year and beyond. But now that an actual game is here, it’s time to remember that this is a team riding a 12-game losing streak.
BYU went 11-1 a year ago, and while it lost a lot of the contributors from that group there’s still a solid core of players with game experience in a winning environment. The Cougars aren’t starting over, like Arizona is, which gives them a built in advantage.
This is going to be a glorified home game for BYU, and while winning would be wonderful, the real goal of this one for the UA is to not look nearly as bad as it did over the previous 12 games.
Adam Green — BYU wins 27-17
The season is finally here, and with it the first opportunity to wash away the awful that was 2020 (and much of 2019)! In BYU, Arizona gets an opponent with a good many question marks, not the least of which is how they’ll replace an all-time great QB.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats have many questions of their own and while some of them may actually be somewhat advantageous (for instance, how will this revamped defense play?), it just seems unlikely they’ll be able to top a solid opponent so early in the season.
If Don Brown’s defense plays well and generates some turnovers, the Cats can keep this one close.
If the offense, led by unproven quarterbacks who will be protected by an offense line seeking redemption can move the ball, the Cats will have a chance late.
But right now, in Week 1, I just can’t see Arizona doing enough to win the game. That does not mean we won’t see any improvement or reason for optimism, though.
Ronnie Stoffle — BYU wins 24-13
I really struggled with this because as soon as I saw the opening line favoring BYU I thought it was too high. Then it climbed another 1.5 points and sits at 12.5 as I’m typing this.
There are plenty of unknowns about Arizona ranging from the quarterback play to the confusion the defense will create. There are even some unknowns with BYU (replacing Zach Wilson and two key starters on the offensive line).
I do believe that this will be a low-scoring game as I trust Don Brown’s defense to make life tough on Cougar’s starting quarterback Jaren Hall. However, I’m preparing myself for the possibility of questionable QB play for the Wildcats. Not necessarily turnovers or silly penalties but more like conservative decision making.
Moral victories are usually not a theory I subscribe to but that’s all I’m looking for in this game. I trust they’ll do a lot to be proud of and that’ll set the stage for the home opener against SDSU.
Ryan Kelapire — BYU wins 27-17
I’m worried about the offense. In previous years, Arizona might have been able to survive without good quarterback play. But the running game is just as much of a question mark this season, with J.J. Taylor and Gary Brightwell no longer in the program.
Arizona does return its entire starting offensive line, but that unit wasn’t good last year. How much difference can a year, and a coaching change, make?
On the other hand, I’m excited about the defense. Not that I think it will be great—the talent just isn’t there yet—but at least it will be aggressive and try to cause confusion. It was hard to watch Arizona’s past defenses get carved up because the coaching staff was content rushing three or four.
Sure, Don Brown’s defense will give up some big plays, but this team will need to win the turnover margin to snap that 12-game losing streak. Unfortunately, I don’t think a well-coached BYU team that knows how to win games is the right opponent for that. Although maybe, just maybe, the Wildcats can rattle BYU’s inexperienced QB just enough to create the takeaways they need to win this one.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 27-24
Football is finally here and I will be in the stands to enjoy this game no matter the outcome. With that said, I believe Arizona come away with the W.
Overall, the offense is the biggest question mark for me. We don’t yet know what Gunner Cruz will bring on game day or what progression Will Plummer has made from last year. The good news is that the wide receiver and running back groups have legit depth and talent. The offensive line was a problem last season, however, I’m not so sure that will be the case this season.
The defense is where I think UA will win this game. I fully believe in what Don Brown is going to put out onto that field and believe there’ll be a stark improvement from last year. I’m not sold on a high-powered BYU offense, especially now that Zach Wilson isn’t in Provo. Couple that with Don Brown’s attacking defense and you have a recipe for success in favor of Arizona.
It’ll be a close game, but I believe that Arizona will be ready, although with some jitters, and they’ll make enough plays to win.