Arizona Wildcats Have A Tough One On Deck Against BYU

It has been quite some time since the Arizona Wildcats were must-see television. They were anything but that last season as they stumbled to an 0-5 record. But there is a renewed sense of hope under new head coach Jedd Fisch despite most of his experience at the NFL level.

Any doubts and concerns over Fisch will go out the window if the Wildcats can start the 2021 college football season with a win over the BYU Cougars. While that may sound like a daunting task for a team that went winless last season, BYU is not the same team that went 11-1 in 2020.

Arizona Wildcats vs. BYU Cougars, Saturday, 9/4 @ 10:30 PM ET

Best Arizona OddsBest BYU Odds
DraftKings+12.5 (-110)Spread-11.5 (-110)Caesars
BetMGMUnder 54.5 (-110)TotalOver 54.0 (-110)PointsBet

BYU Cougars Preview

BYU finished the 2020 season with an impressive 11-1 record and was ranked No. 11 in the final AP poll. But that team is not going to be the same one that takes the field this year. Among their many personnel losses is quarterback Zach Wilson, wide receiver Dax Milne, and tackle Brady Christensen.

Jaren Hall is not the same kind of talent Wilson was, but he is not bad. He will inherit a couple of decent receivers from Wilson, a solid tight end, and will get two more solid wide receivers via the transfer portal. So, if the offensive line holds up, there is a chance the passing game does not miss a beat.

However, with just two returning starters, the offensive line is a bit of a mystery. But if they can open running lanes, Tyler Allgeier will gain some yards in the ground game.

Offensively, the Cougars look like they will be fine. BYU’s offense may not be as good, but they will still be good on that side of the ball. On the defensive side—well, that’s another story altogether.

Last season’s unit was fantastic, but most of the top tacklers from it are gone. Three starters on the defensive line need to be replaced. Whoever steps into those roles will need to give the team a better pass rush than last season.

The linebackers will be the strength of the team. As for the secondary, the cornerbacks are good, but the safeties need to prove themselves.

Arizona Wildcats Preview

Arizona is not going to have a lot going for it this season. The only thing that is working in their favor is the relative uncertainty as to what a Jedd Fisch-coached team will look like. His background is on the offensive side of the ball, and he has worked with some really good players over the years.

But will he have enough talent to work with this season to create a productive offense?

The best bet at quarterback appears to be either Washington State transfer Gunner Cruz or USF transfer Jordan McCloud. Whoever it is will not have much proven talent to work with at wide receiver or on the offensive line (three returning starters).

Arizona’s best bet on offense is probably to hope new offensive coordinator Brendan Carroll (yes, Pete Carroll’s son) can find a few diamonds in the rough.

On the defensive side of the ball—it was not pretty in 2020 (116th in total defense, 125th rushing, and 120th scoring). While there is some experience coming back, for a unit that performed so poorly, do you want it?

New defensive coordinator Don Brown will certainly have his hands full trying to field a capable defense. On a good note, it will not be hard to improve off last season’s dismal performance. But the question is whether they can improve enough to win some games.

Betting Recommendation

As dark as things look for the Wildcats, you almost have to wonder why the point spread is not a little bigger. Arizona has several holes in the roster and does not have much talent for the coaching staff to work with this season. Which is why sports betting sportsbook won’t have them as favorites often.

While BYU has quite a few key roles to replace, there is talent on the roster; talent head coach Kalani Sitake is familiar with.

Take BYU to win, against the spread and via the moneyline. As for the over/under, BYU will need to do most (if not all) of the work. It is hard to say whether they will be able to produce enough or if Arizona will help. Take the under.

About the Author

Travis Pulver

Travis Pulver is a lifelong football fan, something he says comes naturally having been born in the football-crazy state of Texas. Through the years, his love of sports has extended into baseball, basketball, golf, and rugby. Life currently finds him in Indiana with his wife and two kids.