It is finally game week! And just like previous years, we bring you our weekly preview of the Arizona Football matchup, this one being the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks.
The 2023 Arizona Football season is here! Finally, after much anticipation, it is game week for the Wildcats as they prepare for their week one matchup against in-state rival, Northern Arizona.
Already, it has been a busy couple of months for the Wildcats as Arizona officially enters year three of the Jedd Fisch era, and overall, we should be in store for an exciting season.
The Wildcats will start 2023 with a revenge opportunity against the Lumberjacks. Despite there being several new faces that weren’t on that 2021 team, Arizona enters this one looking to avenge their disastrous loss to NAU two seasons ago.
Luckily for us, the Wildcats have brought in a bevy of talented players since then, and have revamped and revitalized this roster, making it a competitive one that could compete for a bowl game this season.
With that said, here is our preview of the Wildcats’ game against NAU!
Getting to Know the details of Arizona Football’s opponent, the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks.
Conference: Big Sky Conference
Head Coach: Chris Ball enters his 5th season with the Lumberjacks having compiled a 15–24 (11–18) record at NAU, posting just one winning season when they finished 3-2 in the abbreviated 2020 season.
2022 Record: Finishing 3–8 (2–6), Northern Arizona ended their season with a 33–31 loss to then No. 7 Weber State. And in five of their eight losses, the Lumberjacks lost by just a combined 17 points.
Key Returners / Starters:
Overall, this is a new group for the Lumberjacks from last season, and even though they are largely untested, they still have a lot of talent.
Look for Cal transfer Kai Millner to line up under center in 2023 for the Lumberjacks, and with his arm talent, he has the potential to lead a potent group.
Coming in, he will look to wide receiver Hendrix Johnson, the Lumberjacks’ presumptive No. 1 target at receiver. Johnson was the receiver who caught the go-ahead touchdown for the Lumberjacks in 2021 that knocked off the Wildcats.
Beyond that, NAU brings in quite a few transfers at Running Back, and they should have a solid stable of backs that could test the Wildcats up front.
Overall, this offense has a lot of fresh faces in 2023; however, they still have enough talent to get the job done, and the Wildcats cannot afford to overlook this group.
Defensively, NAU had its fair bit of struggles last season, surrendering an average of 415.3 yards per game, and 5.8 yards per play. For 2023, they return a large contingency of their talent which includes Kamdan Hightower, Eloi Kwete, and Heston Lameta among others.
While the Lumberjacks lose a few pieces, this is still a group that should be much better overall, and Arizona will need to bring a focused and concerted effort on offense.
Game information and details for Arizona Football:
When: Saturday, September 2nd, 2023
Time: 7:00 PM MST
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Spread: TBD (Also, don’t forget to use WynnBet to enhance your overall betting experience)
Where: Arizona Stadium – Tucson, AZ (50,782)
Overall Series Record: 15-2 Arizona. These two schools have met quite a few times, but overall, Arizona has had the advantage, having won 15 of their 17 matchups including 14 of their last 15 meetings.
Last Meeting vs. Arizona: The last time these two teams met was in Tucson in 2021 (Fisch’s first season with the Wildcats). The Lumberjacks came away with the shocking upset, knocking off the Wildcats 21-19 to snap a 14-game losing streak.
My Prediction: Arizona 56 NAU 24 – This team isn’t like your 2021 Wildcats. Arizona is a much bigger, more athletic, and physical football team, and unlike their fateful day two years ago, the Wildcats come out hungry and motivated in this one, dominating their in-state rival from the kick-off as the Wildcats win in convincing fashion!