The Arizona Wildcats begin the 2022 season in San Diego on Saturday afternoon, taking on the Aztecs on national television to start the second year of the Jedd Fisch era.
The UA is a 6-point underdog, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Who will win? Here’s what our staff thinks:
Kim Doss — San Diego State wins 24-21
This is not the same Aztecs team as last year, but SDSU isn’t a flash-in-the-pan when it comes to football success. Since 2013, they have only averaged fewer points than their opponents twice—in 2013 and 2016. Most seasons, they score at least a touchdown per game better than their opponents. Arizona will be better this year and I expect the Wildcats to be in the game until late. The home team should pull this one out in the end as long as they can keep concerning off-field issues from affecting them on the field.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 27-17
This the most anticipated Arizona game in years, right? Not because San Diego State is particularly great or even because of the revenge factor from last year, but because we’re all really anxious to see just how much the Wildcats have improved.
The good news is while San Diego State is no slouch, there’s no reason to think Arizona can’t compete and even win this one. The Aztecs will want to run the ball, and if the Wildcats can limit them on the ground the Cats should stay in it. And if they can keep the game within reach (or have an early lead), there’s ample reason to feel confident that Jayden de Laura and his variety of offensive weapons can do what’s needed to pull out a win.
It will be an upset, but not the biggest one we’ve seen (or will likely see this season).
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 30-27
It’s finally back! Football is BACK! With that the Arizona Wildcats start the new season in San Diego this year. Every Arizona fan wants to forget the game against the Aztecs last year...and I think that this year’s game will do exactly that.
SDSU has a very young offense, while the defensive side is the exact opposite. The Aztecs have a seasoned squad on defense and will be no pushover.
Move over to Arizona’s side and there is a lot of unknowns....but in a good way. The QB room is WAY more stable than last year. There is legit talent at the RB, WR, and TE spot. Arizona has the weapons it needs to be successful on offense.
The defense has a favorable matchup against the young SDSU offense. There is a legit depth on the d-line. The defensive scheme fits more into the secondary’s strengths. There are a few question marks, but I don’t believe it’ll hinder the squad enough that they aren’t successful. SDSU loves to run the ball so it will be a challenge. But in the end, I believe the defense will make the one stop it needs and the offense will make the one play it needs.
Ezra Amacher — Arizona wins 31-27
I expect Arizona’s offense will come to life early with the help of receiver Jacob Cowing. A transfer from UTEP, averaged over 100 receiving yards a game last season, and he’ll break the century mark in his Wildcats opener. Jayden de Laura will be good, not great, at quarterback, but with the help of a loaded backfield he’ll keep SDSU’s defensive on their toes. Arizona’s experienced defensive core will do enough to slow down Aztecs quarterback Braxton Burmeister.
I think SDSU’s off-the-field issues will be an overlooked factor, as well.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 24-20
Arizona had quite a few close calls last season, despite having a very bad roster compared to what it now has its disposal. Yet if you recall the 2021 opener, the Wildcats looked pretty darn good for a team that was riding a 13-game losing streak and had a first-time head coach.
If there’s one game where it all comes down to planning and preparation, it’s the first one. Jedd Fisch and his staff had a solid plan for BYU, and while it didn’t produce a win it did create optimism ... that was quickly erased a week later when the Wildcats lost by 24 at home to San Diego State.
Expect a similarly well-crafted plan for the revenge game, against a slightly lesser Aztecs squad, and assuming the plays actually work, the UA’s first season-opening win since 2017 and its first victory outside of Tucson to begin a season since 2010.