The Arizona Wildcats have split their first two nonconference games, easily beating NAU at home and then falling at Mississippi State in overtime. The final pre-conference tune-up is UTEP, which is 1-2 and is coming off a 31-point loss at Northwestern.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Arizona is an 18-point favorite. Who takes this matchup? Here’s what our staff thinks.
Kim Doss — Arizona wins 52-7
Arizona showed a much-improved defense last week. Against UTEP, a merely mediocre defense would probably be enough. The Miners have already played three games, and have only scored more than seven points once. That was again Incarnate Word two weeks ago. Arizona holding UTEP to just a field goal would not be a surprising outcome.
As for the Arizona offense, it should also be very successful against this opponent despite the persistent problems with turnovers and decision-making at quarterback. UTEP allowed a Northwestern team that is in disarray to score 38 points against it.
As was the case last week, penalties must be mentioned with this UA team. The Wildcats are one of the most penalized teams in FBS. They are currently 115th in the country with 73 penalty yards per game.
UTEP is not quite as bad as Arizona, but it is also in the bottom quarter of the sport. The Miners’ 71.33 ypg lost to penalties is 110th out of 132 FBS teams.
The Wildcats were almost able to overcome their problems last week at Mississippi State, but they have been consistently weak in the same areas in both games this season. Those weaknesses are likely why the spread is “just” 18 points. Arizona is an unpredictable team, but it should win by considerably more.
Ezra Amacher — Arizona wins 48-10
I expect Arizona to come out ready to dominate this weekend after letting the Mississippi State game get away due to too many unforced errors. Arizona is facing a UTEP squad that just got destroyed by Northwestern, which might be one of the worst Power 5 teams in the country. UTEP also already has a loss to Rich Rodriguez’s Jacksonville State Gamecocks. de Laura will take advantage of the Miners’ poor defense and account for at minimum four touchdowns.
Arizona’s offense needs to play a clean game to recover some confidence heading into Pac-12 play. Through Week 2, Arizona is sixth-worst in the nation in points off turnover margin (-17). That number needs to come down.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 63-7
This game is going to get ugly for UTEP. I wholeheartedly believe that Arizona will play a near perfect game as JdL looks to get back on track after throwing 4 picks against Mississippi State, most likely costing the game for Arizona.
There isn’t much to say here. UTEP is awful and Arizona is a good team, looking to iron out some kinks before conference play with live, in-game reps.
I will say I’m looking to see younger players get more time in-game. That kind of experience will prove to be invaluable.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 45-13
Arizona has shown a lot through its first two games. But perhaps most important of all, the Cats have shown they are a talented team. This week’s opponent cannot make a similar claim.
Assuming the Wildcats don’t overlook their opponent, and they shouldn’t coming off a loss, one should expect a blowout. How large of one will likely depend on how clean a game Arizona’s offense (ie: Jayden de Laura) plays, along with at what point Jedd Fisch decides to pull his starters.
Either way expect the offense to have a fun night while the defense once again looks solid in a win.
Devin Homer — Arizona wins 52-17
Arizona will take advantage of a worse team and will bounce back with a clinic through the air and ground.
Last week Jayden de Laura threw 4 picks and he will look to be mistake free in this one. The UA defense will continue to improve and look dominate over UTEP.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 38-17
This is the perfect game for Arizona to work on some things ahead of the Pac-12 slate, and two of those are running the ball with purpose and throwing to all the receiving targets. Circumstances have made it so the quarterback is the leading rusher and the No. 1 running back is the most frequent pass catcher, so look for those anomalies to get corrected. And also look for some more changes on defense, ones that could become permanent.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.