Over/Under 7.5 Wins () vs Arizona Wildcats ()Date : 09/01/2018
Time : First Game: BYU Cougars @ Arizona Wildcats 10:45 PM
Location : Arizona Stadium
Pick, Prediction, & Preview:
Over/Under 7.5 Wins vs Arizona Wildcats
The Arizona Wildcats failed to exceed expectations in the Rich Rodriquez era especially over the last 3 seasons as they went a combined 17-21 but that time has now come to an end and things are looking up in Tuscon. Kevin Sumlin comes to Arizona after a very up and down tenure at Texas A&M but the change of scenery may be for the better for both Sumlin and the University of Arizona. Arizona employed a high-powered offense under Rodriquez and that plays right into the hands of Sumlin as he had one of the best offenses in the SEC during his time. The offense was really effective on the ground but with the weapons at the WR spot as well as their dual-threat QB the Wildcats should have no problem improving their last place passing offense from a year ago. The defense was suspect for Arizona last season as they ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in total defense but things should be improved entering 2018 as they return 9 starters from their 2017 unit. Kevin Sumlin was not able to hit the ground running with his first official recruiting class as most of the commits were from the Rodriquez coaching staff. The 2018 recruiting class ranked 11th in the Pac-12 with the only school worse than them being a 1-11 Oregon State squad not to mention the Wildcats failed to land a 4-star star recruit which has become vital to a teams success. The cards are against Sumlin and the Wildcats but if they are able to handle their schedule with ease they could win the Pac-12 South.
Over/Under 7.5 Wins's Latest Performance :
The Arizona Wildcats saw ups and downs last season as they found themselves as high as 23rd in the AP rankings but also lost games that should have been easy victories. The Wildcats were able to make a bowl game in 2017 something they missed out on back in 2016 but they were on the losing end of the game as they lost to Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl. Despite what has happened in the past the hype surrounding the Arizona program is high as they return the best dual-threat QB in the nation, 9 starters on the defensive side of the ball, and a brand new coach which has prompted the over/under to be set at 7.5 wins.
Easing Sumlin In
Kevin Sumlin is used to a tough schedule especially in conference play as he had to see Alabama, Auburn, and LSU on a yearly basis, and although the Pac-12 is a top-heavy conference Sumlin will miss out on playing some of those teams in his first season. The Arizona Wildcats have an extremely generous conference schedule as they will miss out on meetings against Stanford and Washington as well as host USC and Oregon. The non-conference schedule could be an early test for the Wildcats as they will play BYU at home and then follow that up with a road matchup against one of the better group of 5 schools in Houston. Other than hosting USC and Oregon, Arizona will welcome in Cal, Colorado, and in-state rival in the Arizona State Sun Devils. If Arizona wants to compete in the Pac-12 South this may be there best chance yet as Tate will still be the head guy and the defense is more experienced.
Arizona Wildcats's Latest Performance :
Arizona experienced ups and downs on the offensive side of the ball as they ranked 1st in the conference in rushing but last in passing but things should start to even out this season considering they have an offensive-minded coach and a solid amount of playmakers. The offense will be run by one of the best dual-threat QBs in the nation as electric junior Khalil Tate returns as the starter for a 2nd year. Tate was effective in both aspects of the game as he threw for 1,591 yards and 14 TDs as well as led the team in rushing with 1,411 yards and 12 TDs, these numbers should improve especially in the passing game. Tate will be joined by the top running back from 2017 in redshirt sophomore J.J. Taylor who gave the Wildcats over 847 yards and 5 TDs last season. Tate will be surrounded by a bunch of solid pass catchers as they return 4 of their top 6 guys which should open the passing game a little more considering there is more experience under their belt. Shun Brown was a go-to target from the slot as the 5’10 senior compiled over 573 yards and a team-high 6 TDs, he is also a factor in the return game as he returned 2 punts for a TD last season. The skill-position players will be well protected by the offensive line as the Wildcats return 3 starters and a Michigan State transfer in Tshiyombu Lukusa. The defense held the Wildcats back from being a true contender in the Pac-12 South but with 9 starters returning there is no doubt that this unit should take a step forward in 2018. One of the strongest groups for Sumlin will be the linebacker corp as they had 3 freshmen starting in 2017 so expect them to the be the building block moving forward. The unit is made up by Tony Fields who led the team in tackles with 104, Colin Schooler who sat 1st on the team in TFL with 13.5, and Kylan Wilborn who was the leader in sacks with 7.0. The secondary will be filled with experience as well as they will return two 3-year starters in S Demetrius Flanigan-Fowles and CB Jace Whittaker. Whittaker was one of the best man-to-man corners in college football last season as he had 3 interceptions and 13 pass deflections and his partner on the other side in redshirt sophomore Lorenzo Burns is a potential first-round pick as the 5’10 corner had 81 tackles and a team-high 5 interceptions. The Wildcats are hoping that Scottie Young cleans up his act (suspension) because the sophomore was a solid starter at the safety position and his services would put this unit over the top. The back half of the defense could potentially be one of the most dangerous groups in college football and if they hit the ground running under Marcel Yates expect this team to be in contention for the Pac-12 championship.
Player To Watch
Khalil Tate, QB, Jr.
The reason that Arizona was able to make a bowl game last season was because of their high-powered offense which was led by Tate in his first season as a full-time starter. Tate showed the ability to run the ball and occasionally flashed the ability to hit his receivers in stride which made Tate one of the most dynamic QBs in the nation. Sumlin and the offensive coaches have to be drooling at the fact that they get Tate for 2 more years and if they could develop him into a 2,000+ yard passer and a 1,000+ yard rusher there is a serious chance the junior could cash the +1400 betting odds for winning the Heisman trophy award.
How Over/Under 7.5 Wins & Arizona Wildcats Matchup.
Vegas Odds, Offshore Odds, & Odds ATS:
Over 7.5 Wins -120
Under 7.5 Wins – Even
In-Depth Analysis of each team:
9/1- BYU- W
9/8- @ Houston- W
9/15- Southern Utah- W
9/22- @ Oregon State- W
9/29- USC- L
10/6- Cal- W
10/12- @ Utah- L
10/20- @ UCLA- L
10/27- Oregon- L
11/2- Colorado- W
11/17- @ Washington State- W
11/24- Arizona State- W
Overall Record: 8-4
Against The Spread Selection: Over 7.5 Wins -120
My reason for the pick :
The Arizona Wildcats will have their best year since 2014 where they made the Fiesta Bowl as the offense will be even more high-powered than years past and the defense will take a huge step forward. Kevin Sumlin wasn’t able to achieve Texas A&M expectations but he was still a very good coach as he went 51-26 and the change of scenery should benefit the 1st year coach. Arizona won’t be in the Pac-12 championship as they will lose against UCLA, USC, and Utah but they still will be well over the 7.5 win total as they should sweep the rest of their schedule with ease. Looking at the schedule I just don’t see them losing against some of the lower tier Pac-12 teams and they could even steal a game at home against Oregon or USC at home which could push the 9 or 10 win mark. Take the -120 odds and ride the over 7.5 wins.