How Arizona's Noah Fifita became one of the best quarterbacks in college football

Arizona found a diamond in the rough at the QB spot.
Nov 25, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats quarterback Noah Fifita (11) celebrates a
Nov 25, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats quarterback Noah Fifita (11) celebrates a / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Rising to dominance

With de Laura still sidelined with the injury, Fifita was named the starter for the Week 5 tilt against a star-studded No. 7 Washington. Though the 31-24 loss would end up being Arizona's largest margin of defeat, the Wildcats moved within striking distance of the eventual NCAA Runners-up in the fourth quarter after being down by 14. In his starting debut, Fifita completed 27 of his 39 passes (69.2%) for 232 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception.

Noah Fifita
Arizona v USC / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

The next week, No. 9 USC was the foe on the slate and de Laura's injury was still questionable. Though the Wildcats fell short once again, it was in a 43-41 triple-overtime fireworks show where the luck simply didn't land with Arizona. This was Fifita's coming-out party: he completed 25 of his 35 passes for 303 yards and an eye-popping five touchdowns. It was also the last time Arizona lost for the remainder of the season.

In Week 7, Arizona was facing de Laura's alma mater, No. 19 Washington State, and no word was given about his status as the starter. Whether it was because de Laura was still questionable or because Fifita was too good to keep on the bench anymore, the young gun was given the starting nod.

He completed 34 of 43 passes (79.1%) for 342 yards for his second-straight 300-plus-yard game. Though he didn't reach the end zone, the 'Cats crushed the Cougars with a potent red zone rushing attack to win 44-6. Fifita earned his first win as the starting quarterback of the Arizona Wildcats, and there was no looking back from here.