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Alamo Bowl: Arizona vs. Oklahoma score predictions

arizona-wildcats-football-oklahoma-sooners-alamo-bowl-score-predictions-college-staff-2023 Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the first time since 2017, the Arizona Wildcats are playing in a bowl game. And for that first bowl matchup in six years they get one of college football’s most storied programs, the Oklahoma Sooners, in the Alamo Bowl.

This game features the best ranked matchup outside of the New Year’s Six bowls, with the Wildcats (9-3) 14th in the College Football Playoff rankings and Oklahoma (10-2) at No. 12

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Arizona is a 3-point favorite to win its first bowl game since the 2015 New Mexico Bowl.

Who takes this matchup? Here’s what our staff thinks.

Kim Doss — Arizona wins 34-31

This is a tough one to call because Oklahoma will be going into this one with a different quarterback. While that means inexperience running the Oklahoma offense, it also means Arizona will have less familiarity with him as far as scouting. Jackson Arnold has completed 75 percent of his passes as a freshman, but he’s only thrown 24.

The positive is that the Arizona defense has been able to settle into games even when they have started slowly this season. The coaches and players have shown that they can adapt. There is no reason to expect them not to show the same ability in this bowl game.

The Sooners ran over Iowa State, TCU, and West Virginia, but against the better teams in the Big 12, they scored between 27 and 34 points in every game. Throwing the dart at the dartboard, I’ll go right in the middle of those two for this one. In that scenario, winning means Arizona must get near its season average of 34 points. Will it be able to do that after the long layoff? With this bowl game likely meaning more to the Wildcats than the Sooners, I’ll say yes.

Ezra Amacher — Arizona wins 38-30

Bowl games are historically difficult to predict, as one must account for a team’s motivation entering the game as well as the numerous personnel changes. Fortunately for Arizona, the motivation should be sky high and the bulk of the roster is set to compete in the game.

I expect Arizona’s offense to come out slinging. Noah Fifita has improved throughout the season, and three additional weeks of practice should have him gearing to go. Moreover, Oklahoma defense hasn’t been particularly good at stopping balanced offenses. The Sooners have given up at least 20 points in eight straight games, so Arizona should be a shoo-in to score three or more touchdowns.

Oklahoma’s turnover at quarterback and the offensive line will be too much for it to overcome. Give me the Wildcats by two scores.

Adam Green — Arizona wins 34-31

Excuse me while I dust off my bowl prediction hat. It took a while to find it and the dirt was caked onto it.

But now that it’s clean, let’s put it on and go to work.

On the surface this seems like a game Arizona should lose. This is Oklahoma after all. But the oddsmakers are favoring the Cats in part because the Sooners that will take the field Thursday are not the same group that earned the No. 12 ranking. Transfers and declarations have robbed Oklahoma of some talent. Not all of it, mind you, because this was a very talented roster to begin with.

Of course, Arizona is no slouch. The Wildcats steadily improved as the season went along and were playing great football by the end of it. Assuming the time off hasn’t stopped their momentum, the Cats enter this game plenty capable of winning.

So that’s what will happen. Arizona will get to use the old cliché of “wanting it more” because, well, they probably do, and win on a last-second field goal.

Devin Homer — Arizona wins 31-24

Arizona ended the regular season on a six-game winning streak and are looking for a fifth ranked victory, for the first time in program history.

Oklahoma will be missing its starting quarterback due to the transfer portal and will look to freshman Jackson Arnold to take over its offense.

Arizona kept opponents to 20.8 points a game and will look to keep the third-highest scoring offense (43.2) in college football this year.

As long as Arizona doesn’t turn over the ball and give Oklahoma short fields, UA should close the season with seven straight wins going into the Big 12.

Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 30-26

Arizona hasn’t lost a college football game in more than two months, its last defeat coming in double overtime at USC on Oct. 7. Since then the Wildcats have won by an average of 20.2 points, beating four opponents who were ranked at the time including three straight at one point. Oklahoma would be their fifth ranked victory, something the program has never accomplished in one season.

So much of 2023 has been unprecedented for the UA, so why not one more?

Save for left tackle Jordan Morgan, Arizona should have everyone of note available for this game. Oklahoma can’t nearly say the same, and for a program of its stature a non-NY6 or CFP bowl can easily be written off as unimportant. The Wildcats aren’t in that position, and will play like they’re going for a championship.

Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 42-28

This will be an interesting match-up to say the least. For starters I think this game will be a good test for Arizona’s offense. Oklahoma has one of the most efficient defenses against the pass in the Big 12. They have 19 interceptions and have allowed only 16 passing touchdowns all year, all while keeping opponents to a 56.2 completion percentage. Offensively, they are powerful. They lead the Big 12 in TD (63), points per game (43.2), and yards per game (502.4); while they are third in yards per play (6.7) and total yards (6,029).

On the other side, the ‘Cats are riding a 6-game win streak. They have held their opponents to 20.8 points per game. The offensive line has only given up 21 sacks. Arizona has thrown 10 interceptions all year and has a 72.3 completion percentage.

With all that said, Arizona will win. Noah Fifita has been phenomenal against the blitz and Oklahoma has not been very good this season at getting to the quarterback. The key on offense will be playing smart, clean football. Take what Oklahoma’s opportunistic defense gives them and don’t turn the ball over. Defensively, Arizona has been successful getting to the QB and causing chaos in the backfield. The Sooners will be playing their true freshman signal caller so this is a prime opportunity for the Wildcats to rattle a young QB and throw Oklahoma’s offense out of rhythm.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.