Arizona Betting Odds Preview
Head coach Rich Rodriguez didn't have much luck at Michigan a few years back, but it hasn't taken him long to create some excitement with the Arizona Wildcats.
UA won eight games last year, including a bowl, and could have won two or three more, had any semblance of a defense shown up. So after years of mediocrity the future suddenly appears very bright in Tuscon.
Arizona only had 11 starters back for its first season under coach Rich Rod last year, but they did have a quarterback in Matt Scott, and that was a good start. The Wildcats began last year with three straight wins, including a 59-38 victory over a ranked Oklahoma State squad. They then opened Pac-12 play with a 49-0 loss to Oregon, but then suffered a tough three-point loss to Oregon State, and blew a 14-point lead in an overtime defeat at Stanford. Arizona then trounced Washington and rallied to upset USC, but then suffered a severe letdown and got trounced themselves at UCLA.
The 'Cats then beat Colorado and Utah, lost the rivalry game to Arizona State by a touchdown (another blown lead), then edged Nevada 49-48 in the New Mexico Bowl. So Arizona finished 8-5 overall, 4-5 in Pac-12 play, and 6-7 ATS. The Wildcats averaged 38 PPG, but gave up 35 PPG. That might be why they went 9-3 on the OVER/UNDER.
This year the 'Cats get 16 starters back. Just five starters return on offense; fortunately, one of them is 1,900-yard rusher Ka'Deem Carey, and three others are back to anchor the offensive line. But they took a hit when WR Austin Hill, who caught 80 balls for over 1,300 yards last year, tore an ACL this spring; he's likely out for this season. And they'll have to find a new QB, with Scott's departure. Also, while all 11 starters are back on defense, that unit allowed almost 500 YPG last year, and six times allowed 600 yards. So improvement is definitely needed on that side of the ball.
Arizona should start 3-0 this year against Northern Arizona, UNLV, and UT-San Antonio, but four of its first five conference games are on the road, at Washington, USC, Colorado, and Cal. The 'Cats then host UCLA, Washington State, and Oregon, then finish at Arizona State. But they miss Stanford and Oregon State. From afar, Arizona could be favored in as many as eight or nine games this year.
Pac-12 Championship Odds at 5Dimes as of August 11
Oregon State +1050
Arizona State +1100
Washington State +6000