It’s only one game, but the Arizona Wildcats’ season-opening 38-20 win over San Diego State was enough to convince least one pundit that this team has a chance to go bowling.
Brett McMurphy of The Action Network projects Arizona to play Auburn in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, Florida on Dec. 23.
My new @ActionNetworkHQ bowl projections: They're real & they're spectacular!! Hellllllo Newman ... and hello to the new teams in my projections this week: Arizona, Mizzou, ODU, Ohio, Rutgers, Syracuse, Wazzu, WKU. Giddy up!https://t.co/6jEERUwAfC pic.twitter.com/w1efTxmSW9— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) September 5, 2022
Arizona is seeking its first bowl appearance since the 2017 Foster Farms Bowl, where it lost to Purdue 38-35. The UA made eight bowl games between 2008-17.
McMurphy’s prediction assumes the Wildcats will win at minimum the requisite six games to qualify for a bowl. In order to reach the six-win mark, Arizona will need to rack up some more early season victories.
If the Wildcats can split the remainder of the non-conference schedule and win their first two Pac-12 games against Cal and Colorado, they'd be at 4-1 ahead of a tough four-game stretch against Oregon, Washington, USC and Utah.
Arizona’s final three games against UCLA, Washington State and ASU could offer up a couple favorable matchups.
As for McMurphy’s prediction, the Gasparilla Bowl would be an improbable bowl selection for Arizona, considering no Pac-12 program has ever been invited to the game. Historically the Gasparilla Bowl draws from Conference USA and The American.
Still, the fact a national reporter thinks Arizona is bowl-worthy after Week One speaks to the program’s improving reputation under coach Jedd Fisch.