The Arizona Wildcats enter the 2021 season looking to turn things around after an abysmal 2020 season. Last year was rough for most college football programs, but the Wildcats were one of the worst teams in the country, especially in the Pac-12 Conference.
Arizona first started playing college football all the way back in 1899, and there have been some periods of great success for this program. Unfortunately, most of the success came before this century, and the Wildcats are never really considered a threat to win the Pac-12 Conference.
The Wildcats compete in the Pac-12 South Division, and their biggest rival is with the Arizona State Sun Devils. Arizona has smaller rivalries with other teams in the Pac-12, but the biggest game each year is always played against Arizona State.
The 2021 season will be the first under new head coach Jedd Fisch, and he will have to work hard to turn around the fortunes of this program. Arizona has just one Pac-12 South Division title in the program’s history, and that came during the 2014 season.
Arizona has gone 617-468-33 all-time, which comes out to a winning percentage of .567. The Wildcats have appeared in 21 bowl games, posting a 9-11-1 record in those games.
Last year’s results
The 2020 season was a forgettable one for the Arizona Wildcats football team, and it was also a season that cost head coach Kevin Sumlin his job. Sumlin was expected to do big things while at Arizona, but he ended his tenure with an overall record of just 9-20.
The Pac-12 Conference played a shortened schedule in 2020, and there were still a number of games that were canceled due to COVID-19 issues. Arizona did have some players that chose to opt-out of the season, and that played a role in the disappointing year.
Arizona finished the 2020 season with a record of 0-5, but that doesn’t even tell the whole story of just how bad things got. A 70-7 loss to rival Arizona State was the icing on the cake, and it was that performance that played a large role in the firing of Sumlin.
The Wildcats nearly stunned USC in the season opener but ultimately fell by a score of 34-30. That would go on to be the highlight of the year for Arizona as things started to unravel quickly, and there was no chance to turn things around.
Games against Utah and California were both canceled last year, and the matchup against California could have been a chance for the Wildcats to pick up a victory. With an 0-5 record, Arizona was not selected to a bowl game, and a decision was made immediately after the year to fire Sumlin.
Even though the Pac-12 Conference has not been really strong on the national level over the last few years, there are still some extremely tough teams. The Pac-12 race should be wide open again this season, but the league could also have at least five teams ranked in the Top 25.
Both divisions are going to be up for grabs, with Oregon and Washington expected to clash in the North Division. There are some other teams in the North that could make a run at a conference title, but it’s hard to see a team getting past the Ducks or Huskies.
In the Pac-12 South, Arizona is going to struggle to pick up even one victory. This division has really gotten strong over the last few years, and the Wildcats just haven’t been able to keep up consistently.
To make matters worse, the Arizona State Sun Devils are expected to be one of the top teams in the Pac-12 South Division. USC and Utah should also factor in the race, and the Arizona Wildcats fans would rather have one of those teams win the title.
Even though Arizona is not expected to compete for a Pac-12 South title, the Wildcats could play the role of spoiler this season. If the Wildcats are able to upset some team along the way, then that could be the difference between a team winning and losing the division.
One reason for optimism surrounding the Arizona football program is that there is plenty of new talent on the roster. This is a roster that had plenty of turnover over Kevin Sumlin was fired, but most would agree that this roster is better than it was a season ago.
The biggest addition to this roster might be at the linebacker position, with Western Michigan transfer Treshaun Hayward joining the team. Hayward was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year back in 2019, and he will likely be the best defensive player in Arizona.
Jason Harris should help out on defense as well after transferring from Colorado this offseason. On the offensive line, Davis DiVall came over to Arizona from Baylor and should help solidify that group.
The quarterback position has seen a number of new players added to the roster, but it’s still too early to determine which player will be named the starter. Running back Drake Anderson should see plenty of touches at that position after joining the team from Northwestern.
As mentioned above, this team had a number of players enter the transfer portal after the head coach was fired. That isn’t always a bad thing, especially for a team that failed to win a game a season ago.
Quarterback Grant Gunnell transferred to Memphis, and that will take away an option at that position for head coach Jedd Fisch. Running back, Gary Brightwell left the team after declaring for the NFL Draft, and that could end up being one of the biggest losses on the team.
Defensive tackle Roy Lopez spent just one season with the Wildcats, but it was a productive one. Lopez was drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft, and that will leave a pretty significant hole on the defensive line.
The offensive line has seen plenty of roster turnover this offseason, but most of the action was players coming to Arizona. Lineman Robert Congel is a big loss after he transferred to Oklahoma to finish out his college career.
- September 4 (vs. BYU)
- September 11 (vs. San Diego State)
- September 18 (vs. Northern Arizona)
- September 25 (at Oregon)
- October 9 (vs. UCLA)
- October 16 (at Colorado)
- October 22 (vs. Washington)
- October 30 (at USC)
- November 6 (vs. California)
- November 13 (vs. Utah)
- November 19 (at Washington State)
- November 27 (at Arizona State)
- December 3 (Pac-12 Champhionship Game)
If the Arizona Wildcats are going to win many games this season, then the best chance to do so is during the nonconference portion of the schedule. This is not going to be easy, as the Wildcats will have a pair of tough matchups right out of the gate.
BYU is playing both Arizona and Arizona State this season, and the Wildcats will meet up with the Cougars in Las Vegas. One week later, the Wildcats will host the San Diego State Aztecs in what will be another tough game.
The first Pac-12 opponent for Arizona this season is Oregon, and that will be a rough way to start off. After that game, the Wildcats will play three straight games that could provide a chance for a win.
The biggest game of the year will once again be a matchup with rival Arizona State. There will be revenge on the mind for Arizona after getting beat by 63 points a season ago.
There are a number of different ways to bet on the Arizona Wildcats this season, but this is a team that won’t draw much action. Oddsmakers are not convinced that Arizona will be able to turn things around this season, and they aren’t going to factor into the division or conference title race.
The 2021 win total for Arizona is set at just 2.5 total wins, by far the lowest number in the Pac-12 Conference. There is only one other team from a Power 5 Conference with a lower projected win total, which means that Arizona is not going to be a strong team.
Betting on the over is set at -115, which means that most oddsmakers do think that Arizona finds a way to pick up at least three wins.
Odds to Win Conference
It is the Oregon Ducks at +250 as the betting favorite to win the Pac-12 Conference. Oregon is followed by Washington (+350), and both Arizona State and USC at +400.
The Pac-12 should be a tight race throughout, but Arizona clearly has the worst odds to win the title. Bettors could get the Wildcats at +10000, which would provide a massive payout if they pulled it off.
Odds to Win Pac-12 South
The Pac-12 South Division has three teams that should be battling it out for the title, and Arizona is not one of them. The Wildcats have odds of +10000 to win the division, which is easily the worst odds.
Here is a look at the full odds to win the Pac-12 South:
- Arizona State +200
- USC +200
- Utah +250
- UCLA +750
- Colorado +1400
- Arizona +10000
Odds to Win National Title
You have to go a long way down the list to find the odds for Arizona to win the national title. Currently, the Wildcats have odds set at +25000, which doesn’t give them much of a chance at all to win the national title.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are the betting favorites at +250, followed by Clemson (+400) and Georgia (+450).