All it takes to become bowl eligible in college football these days?….six wins. After an unexpected 2-1 start to the 2022 season, the Arizona Wildcats seem like a team that could play in a bowl game later this year or early in 2023.
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Arizona Wildcats Pac-12 Odds
The Wildcats are hoping for more than just a bowl game. They are shooting for a chance to make it to the Pac-12 Championship. But oddsmakers are not moving the Wildcats when it comes to their Pac-12 chances. DraftKings Sportsbook has Arizona at to win the conference. Only once in school history, in 2014, has the football program even played in a Pac-12 title game.
Wildcats Headed to Independence Bowl?
One sportsbook, FanDuel Arizona, projected Arizona’s win total to be 5.5 for the 2022 season. But, after defeating San Diego State on the road to open the season and following a gritty 31-28 victory over North Dakota State, arguably the best FCS football program in the nation, the Wildcats have people paying attention.
The chances that Arizona is going to emerge as a national presence in college football is not nil, but as close to nil as you can imagine. DraftKings sportsbook lists the school at +100000 to win the NCAA FBS National Championship. But that doesn’t mean the team won’t get some attention nationally.
ESPN football expert Mark Schlabach predicts Arizona will play in the Independence Bowl, which is played in Shreveport, Louisiana, in December. That bowl has an agreement to pit either Army or BYU against a team from one of three conferences: Conference USA, the ACC, or the Pac-12. The Wildcats played in the Independence Bowl in 2013 when they defeated Boston College, 42-19, under head coach Rich Rodriguez.
After a loss against Cal on the road over the weekend. Arizona returns home this Saturday against winless Colorado. Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch will need to pile on wins in this stretch of the season before he leads his team onto the field against west coast powerhouses Oregon, USC, and Washington. The Cats have a road game against Utah later this season as well, which will be a difficult game.
ASU in Turmoil After Firing Edwards
Three things emerged in the aftermath of Arizona State’s 31-20 loss to Eastern Michigan in Tempe:
- Head coach Herm Edwards lost his job and once again proved he had integrity in how he handled the embarrassing dismissal.
- Some careful observers now realize that Eastern Michigan isn’t the type of program that should be taken lightly. We’re probably at the stage where most FBS teams shouldn’t act like it’s the end of the world to lose to EMU or other MAC schools.
- As Edwards was being shown the door, many school officials and even some in the ASU football program took the opportunity to pile on their departed coach.
How bad of shape is Arizona State in? DraftKings listed the Sun Devils as 15.5 point underdogs at home against Utah for Saturday’s game. The Sun Devils lost that game with a final score of 34 to 13.
This isn’t how it was supposed to be when Edwards was hired before the 2018 season. In each of his first two seasons, Edwards guided ASU to wins over high-profile programs and one victory over a ranked team. The Sun Devils won a bowl game and played in three bowl games in the four full seasons Edwards was their head coach.
But during the COVID-19 pandemic, some things unraveled in Tempe around the program. As a result of alleged recruiting violations, several players transferred.
As of yet, nothing concrete has emerged to prove Edwards did anything untoward. Given his track record of being transparent and taking responsibility, it would be surprising if Edwards had knowingly done anything improper in his role at ASU. But, a loss to EMU at home was enough to topple Edwards, whom boosters never really warmed to. His business-like, NFL-style coaching was mostly successful on the field, but players and assistant coaches (some of whom have taken shots at their former boss after his departure) sealed his fate.
With ASU at 1-2 as they head into conference play, it’s going to be a difficult “reset” year. Interim head coach Shaun Aguano and the rest of the coaching staff are auditioning to come back next season. Some players loyal to Edwards have hinted they may bolt for other programs. Unfortunately, it looks like the immediate future of Sun Devils football is not sunny at all.
Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire