The Arizona Wildcats open their final season of Pac-12 play on Saturday with a trip to Stanford. The Cardinal (1-2, 0-1 Pac-12) are coming off a home loss to FCS Sacramento State, but traditionally have owned the UA (2-1) especially in Palo Alto.
Stanford has won the last six meetings, and Arizona hasn’t won on the road in the series since 2006.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Arizona is an 11.5-point favorite. Who takes this matchup? Here’s what our staff thinks.
Kim Doss — Arizona wins 28-14
After the first three games, it’s time to give Arizona’s defense a bit of credit. They’re holding opponents to just over 14 points per game. That included a game on the road in SEC land where the Wildcats typically don’t do well. Stanford is no Mississippi State.
Having been a bit optimistic about Arizona’s offensive output in two out of three weeks so far despite acknowledging its offensive shortcomings, predicting that the Wildcats will score under 30 against a bad Cardinal team may seem like overcompensation. A 14-point victory would be comfortably over the 11.5-point spread, though, and seems within the Wildcats’ capabilities on the road.
Ezra Amacher — Arizona wins 34-27
Arizona’s conference play is bookended by games against the worst teams in the Pac-12 – Stanford and ASU. In between is a stretch of seven straight currently ranked opponents. That makes this game critical to win because it gets awfully tough from here.
Fortunately, Arizona matches up well against Stanford, which is under year one of coach Troy Taylor. The Cardinal allow 342 passing yards per game, ranking 129th out of 133 teams. Jayden de Laura and Co. should light up Stanford’s defense and put the ball in the red zone on more drives than not. Whether Arizona converts those trips into touchdowns will determine whether this game is relatively close.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 38-21
So....I’m just going to get this out of the way....Stanford is not good this season. The Cardinal are near the bottom, if not dead last, in just about every statistical category on both sides of the ball.
Offensively they are a mess. Passing, they’ve completed just over half of their attempts...which is bad. And that’s between two QBs. Rushing the ball is their preferred method, and even then it isn’t crazy successful. They’re around mid-conference when it comes to yards per game, coming in at 182.3 YPG. With that they’ve only racked up 4.7 yards per carry.
Defensively, they’re no better. They are dead last in passing yards, giving up 342.3 passing yards per game. Their run defense is a little better, allowing just under 115 yards per game. Not to mention they’ve only forced two turnovers. Not great considering they yardage they’ve given up.
So, all that being said Arizona is clearly the better team. And they’ll go on the road and win in Palo Alto.
Adam Green —Arizona wins 31-13
None of us can be certain of just how good Arizona is after its non-conference slate. The team took care of business against the lesser foes it faced, albeit not without some speed bumps, whereas it fell to the best team in frustrating fashion.
However, even if Arizona is just a notch below being truly good they are still quite a bit better than Stanford. The Cardinal are coming off a pretty bad loss in their own right and seem to have questions on offense while not featuring a great defense.
On paper this is a game Arizona should win, and win comfortably. However it is on the road, it is in-conference and we have seen the Cats fail in a similar situation (last year @ Cal).
Assuming the team comes out focused and not distracted the lessons learned should pay off in this one.
Devin Homer — Arizona wins 31-24
This is the perfect opportunity for Arizona to open conference play with a win playing against a lesser Stanford.
If Arizona’s defense continues to look improved and hold teams in the 20’s they will win this game comfortably.
UA will look to win the turnover battle for the first time this season. Not turning over the ball and making opponents turn the ball over will be a key to get this offense rolling at a high level.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 30-24
This is the perfect game for Arizona to open Pac-12 play with, since it’s on the road but against an opponent with obvious flaws. A win here provides momentum into the gauntlet that is the meat of the league schedule.
But then again, the same was the case a year ago when the Wildcats began against a vulnerable Cal team and gave up 49 points on the road, so there are no givens.
This is a must win for the UA’s hopes of getting to bowl eligibility, and while it will get dicey there for a while the Wildcats will open conference play 1-0 for the first time since 2019.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.