Is this the game that ends the losing streak?
The Arizona Wildcats have lost 10 straight games, the longest skid in school history, but now return home for their final two scheduled games of the 2020 season.
First up is the Colorado Buffaloes, who are a big surprise at 3-0. Arizona has beaten the Buffs in three straight games. Will the Wildcats make it four in a row?
Here’s what our staff thinks.
Ronnie Stoffle — Colorado wins 31-13
To be clear, this is purely based on the assumption that Grant Gunnell will not play. If he does play, it should be a close game and Arizona has a legitimate chance to win.
Sam Noyer and Jarek Broussard will be difficult for Arizona to defend. I’m not too concerned with Noyer’s passing game. My concern is actually with his ability to keep drives alive with his legs and that paired with Broussard, who is averaging 144 rushing yards per contest, is going to be a real issue.
Colorado’s defense can be had but it’ll be very difficult to do without Gunnell in the lineup. The counter to this argument would be Will Plummer looked very confident despite being thrown into the fire on play two last week. How could it be worse with another week of practice?
My gut says it won’t be worse, rather it’ll be essentially the same. Colorado will force Plummer to throw and—fingers crossed—Noel Mazzone is able to open it up for him more than last week. But I’m not going to hold my breath.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 29-26
When last we saw Arizona at home, it came within 25 seconds of beating USC. A lot (of bad) has happened since then, but that close result cannot be completely discounted. The friendly confines of Arizona Stadium, albeit empty, have to count for something, not to mention the confidence that comes with knowing the Wildcats have owned Colorado of late.
Sure, Khalil Tate had a lot to do with that, but plenty of players are still around from one or more of those victories. Remember, Arizona’s last win 14 months ago to the date of this matchup was at Colorado.
While it might look like this team has quit when looking at opt outs, the guys who are still around have something to play for. Ending this losing streak is a big part of that motivation.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 28-24*
This is more about me thinking Colorado is bound to slip up than it is about Arizona being due for a win. Colorado is sixth in the Pac-12 in passing yards per game and only 11th in yards per carry. They also allowed a combined 74 points in their wins over UCLA and Stanford, winning both games by a total of nine points.
Stanford and UCLA aren’t good, so I expect Arizona to at least be competitive. And for whatever reason, I think this will be the week the Wildcats finally generate a turnover or two. They’ve been so close.
Arizona needs to be efficient in the red zone, where Colorado is 13 for 13 with 11 touchdowns this season.
*That being said, my pick is contingent on Grant Gunnell playing. Will Plummer did well in his debut all things considered, but it’s just so hard to win games with a true freshman quarterback, especially behind a struggling offensive line. Gunnell has at least shown he is good at avoiding turnovers, throwing just two picks over 231 career pass attempts.
Christian Mortensen — Colorado wins 35-17
Colorado’s offense has been one of the most exciting to watch since the Pac-12 started playing football again, and I’m expecting Sam Noyer and company to put up some big numbers against a depleted Arizona defense this weekend.
The Buffs are averaging the third most points per game in the conference (34.3 ppg), and the Wildcats are allowing the second most points per game in the Pac (35 ppg).
These numbers don’t look good for the UA, and considering the fact that Arizona’s quarterback situation is currently up in the air as well, I just don’t see the offense putting up enough numbers to stay in or even win this game.
Even if the Cats will be wearing some sweet new jerseys.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 31-28
Arizona always plays some of it’s best ball of any given year against Colorado. Arizona is thirsty for a win and I think they’ll play well enough to beat Colorado.
Yes, the Buffs are 3-0, but they aren’t all necessarily clean wins. They only beat San Diego State by 3 points last week and SDSU doesn’t have the offensive weapons at QB, RB, and WR that Arizona has. Now, it’ll depend on how the offensive line plays if Arizona has a chance to get the offense going.
If the defense plays like it did in the second half against UCLA, this should be enough…again, if the OL plays well. The defense gave Arizona nothing but opportunities to win against the Bruins. They did a great job of making adjustments and actually stopping the run effectively. UA’s secondary, especially in the middle of the field, has to do better. Christian Roland-Wallace and Lorenzo Burns did a good to great job last week, with CRW probably playing his best game at Arizona.
If the defense plays well, and the offense plays a few steps up from what it did against UCLA, the ‘Cats will win.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 34-20
Arizona is not a good football team. Despite their record, I’m not convinced Colorado is.
Whereas the Wildcats got a brutal draw to start the short season it is apparent the Buffaloes got a favorable one. Is it possible that they are better than we all anticipated? Yes, but their statistics do nothing to jump off the page and their talent — especially at quarterback with Sam Noyer — would appear to be deficient.
That said, it’s fair to question if the Wildcats have enough to beat anyone at this point. Between injuries and opt outs the roster is even more thin than it was a few weeks ago and they may have to roll with their true freshman backup QB in this one.
Even if Will Plummer gets the nod, I think the Wildcats play hard and, with the benefit of being at home and in some amazing uniforms, get the win.