Zona Zealots Staff Predictions for Arizona Football vs BYU

TUCSON, ARIZONA - APRIL 24: Quarterback Will Plummer #15 of the Arizona Wildcats (Team Blue) drops back to pass during the Arizona Spring game at Arizona Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TUCSON, ARIZONA - APRIL 24: Quarterback Will Plummer #15 of the Arizona Wildcats (Team Blue) drops back to pass during the Arizona Spring game at Arizona Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The highly anticipated matchup between Arizona Football and BYU is just days away, and with the Wildcats set to kick-off, our staff makes their predictions. 

It is game week for Arizona Football, and after a long and agonizing off-season in which the Wildcats overhauled their coaching staff and added several pieces to the roster, we will officially get our first look of the Wildcats in Jedd Fisch era.

As Arizona Football takes on BYU to open the season, we make our predictions of the Wildcats’ upcoming game.

Eric (Site Expert):

It has been nothing but build-up all off-season, and luckily for us, it is not hard to argue that no Arizona Football coach has had a better off-season than head coach Jedd Fisch in recent memory.

However, despite the success off the football field, we still don’t know how Fisch will be as a head coach. On Saturday, we will finally get to see what he is all about once his team takes to the field for the first time in 2021.

Coming in, Arizona will have about as tough of a matchup as anyone in week one, especially as BYU is fresh off an 11-1 season, and come Saturday in Las Vegas, the Wildcats will find themselves in a dog fight.

BYU is a physical, mature, and athletic team, and they have a recipe that works well under head coach Kalani Sitake, compiling a 38-26 record under his tutelage. The Cougars have also won the previous two matchups against the Wildcats, if recent results matter.

In addition, Arizona is breaking in a lot of new positional players, particularly at quarterback. While I think we see a bit more ‘dog’ in these Cats this year, I still see the Wildcats going through some growing pains in week one as they ultimately come up just short in this one.

BYU 27 Arizona 20

Shereen Rayan (Contributor):

Arizona is an enigma to the BYU coaching staff. They have no clue what or who they need to coach against. That’s a huge benefit to the team. All new coaches, new offense, new defense, new quarterback possibly, and more fans hopefully in Las Vegas with more unknowns.

BYU usually has older, more mature players due to players going on their Mormon missions and returning to college to play. Also, in contrast, BYU’s head coach Kalani Sitake has been at BYU since 2016. So their players may not have seen Arizona, so perhaps the coaches will be able to come up with an effective strategy against the offense and defense of the Cougars.

Hopefully, Arizona has some tricks up its sleeves, especially if things aren’t going well. Or, if things do go better than any of us anticipated and the cohesiveness of the team and the chemistry is there, that could propel the Wildcats to outperform the predictions. After all, it is college football and anything can happen.

Arizona 37 BYU 35

Kevin Barney (Contributor):

The upcoming BYU opener has an even more exciting feel to it than most opening games in recent years. It has been a whirlwind of talk and excitement with a completely new and overhauled coaching staff. Add in the incoming transfer portal players, many of which are from Arizona to the mix, and it adds to the hype as fans wait to get a look at the new Wildcats football team.

Two QB’s were added to the Wildcats’ system as an ingredient for fans to get excited about with anticipation, and Jedd Fisch decided to take the final two QB’s in the competition to become the starter to the first game of the season.

Using it as a tool to make his final decision on the No. 1 QB, or perhaps it will work out well enough for the Wildcats to use two QB’s? Either way, I know coming in, many are wondering what this new “Pro Style” Offensive Scheme will look like, and how well will the players adapt?

The overall series has been close with Arizona having 12 wins to BYU’s 11 with one tie. The recent games, the last being in 2018, were even close, being hard-fought, competitive games.

When I think of BYU, I think of big guys, particularly big guys from the Pacific Islands where Sitake continues to do well in recruiting. BYU’s Defensive Line in particular always plays very physical, and the Arizona Offensive Line is still a question mark heading into 2021.

The Wildcats will get a real test right out of the gate, and make no mistake about it, BYU especially their D Line, will show up ready to play and be physical. For me, it will come down to the much-anticipated play of Don Brown’s defense, and looking forward to seeing the many personnel packages he inserts to keep the offense guessing and creating havoc.

I think Arizona’s defense, particularly the play of the Linebackers, and the Arizona offensive line are the keys to the Wildcats winning.

I think Arizona has the scouting advantage, but it always comes down to the actual play and decisions during the game. I think Arizona finds a way to get it done, even if that is on pure adrenaline and catching a few breaks.

Arizona 20 BYU 17

Kenny Lindberg (Contributor):

Both squads will start new QB’s on Saturday, although I am still of the belief that it’s Gunner Cruz’s position to lose for the Wildcats. However, Fisch is giving Will Plummer the longest runway possible to prove him wrong.

While BYU will likely carry the majority of the crowd, playing away from Lavell Edwards Stadium, it still won’t provide the typical boost, even if they and their fans consider it a “home” game.

Last year’s tape on the ‘Cats is not all that meaningful, as the combination of Patriot and Seahawks influences will likely be on display thanks to coach Fisch and coach Carroll.

On defense, I would look to see the Don Brown trademarks, which always tended to play strongly in the Big 10 with blitzing and a more physical game than we are used to seeing out of the Wildcats.

The returning Wildcats will have plenty of motivation to play for following that unfortunate game at the end of last season, but don’t forget when the team was all playing strong and together, they gave all USC could handle, and probably should have closed out the Trojans to open 2020.

Don’t discount the incoming transfers of Drake Anderson either. While he may not be the “starter”, he brings a big game pedigree with him coming off a trip and nearly upset win in the Big 10 Championship game last season.

BYU on the other hand has a big date next week with Utah, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some are looking more ahead to that game as opposed to the one against a team that was 0-5 last year and has lost 12-straight.

There’s something different about this Arizona squad and despite being a 12.5 point underdog, I say they pull off the upset.

Arizona 27 BYU 20

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