The last time Arizona was bowl eligible, in 2017, it had a quarterback come off the bench and turn the Wildcats’ season around in October. Along the way that QB (Khalil Tate) won every Pac-12 Player of Week award given out that month.
All that kept Noah Fifita from matching that feat was a bye in the middle of his October to remember.
Fifita has been named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the third time this month after leading the UA to a 27-24 upset win over then-No. 11 Oregon State. He also won that award after a triple-overtime loss at USC and a blowout win at Washington State.
The redshirt freshman also was named to the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award Great 8 and Manning Award Stars of the Week list after going 25 of 32 for 275 yards with three touchdowns, including a pair of fourth-quarter TD passes to Michael Wiley to put Arizona ahead for good. In three October starts he has completed 84 of 110 passes (76.4 percent) for 920 yards and eight TDs with two interceptions.
In October 2017, Tate stepped in for an injured Brandon Dawkins early at Colorado and ended up setting an FBS quarterback record with 327 rushing yards with four TDs in 45-42 win. The next week he ran for 230 yards and two TDs in a win over UCLA and followed that up with big performances in wins over Cal and Washington State while winning Pac-12 Player of the Week four times in a row and getting dubbed “Mr. October.”
All four of Fifita’s starts since replacing Jayden de Laura have come against ranked opponents. He and Arizona (5-3, 3-2 Pac-12) will get a fifth such matchup on Saturday when No. 20 UCLA (6-2, 3-2) comes to Tucson for Homecoming.