Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats against tough odds despite double-digit favorite vs. Colorado

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Wilbur the Wildcat has Ralphie the Buffalo down for the count in the latest Mike Hanaoka drawing (above). Arizona will attempt to do the same thing against Colorado’s football team tomorrow in Boulder, Colo., despite some interesting odds.

Some people are into trends while others scoff at them, saying that they are a thing of the past, not the present. If anybody objects to me inserting Las Vegas odds into posts here, the Arizona Daily Star and other mainstream media agencies refer to point spreads in their articles and print odds in their paper.

Also, this site is not affiliated with the University of Arizona. I don’t draw a paycheck from the school.

Former Arizona Daily Star reporter Jon Wilner, now of the San Jose Mercury News, picks Arizona to beat Colorado but expects the Buffaloes to cover the point spread. He lists Arizona as a 17-point favorite. That’s where the line opened. It is now down to Arizona as a 13-point favorite because of action on Colorado.

This is what Arizona must guard against, or better yet, erase from the sports bettors handbook: The Wildcats are 2-9 against the spread (ATS) in the first of back-to-back road games (they travel to Cal next week) while UA coach Rich Rodriguez is 3-14 ATS as a favorite versus a conference opponent coming off a double-digit loss in its previous conference game (ASU beat Colorado 54-13 two weeks ago).

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Rodriguez’s teams are 0-9 ATS as a favorite coming off a win. Moreover, Arizona is 9-22 ATS as a favorite between 10.5 and 21 points and 3-8-1 ATS as a road favorite over the last five years.

In my lifetime, the Wildcats have always been giant killers but struggled in the role as a clear-cut favorite. But then again, in my lifetime, I’ve never seen a running back like Ka’Deem Carey play for the Wildcats.

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These numbers are more substantial than betting trends, in my opinion: Carey rushed for a Pac-12-record 366 yards against Colorado in a 56-31 victory last year at Arizona Stadium. Carey has averaged 191 yards rushing a game in the nine games since. In other words, Carey, an All-American, is no fluke.

Colorado’s rush defense ranks 10th in the Pac-12 and yields 174.5 yards per game on the ground. Carey rushed for a season-high 236 yards in last week’s 35-24 win over a Utah team whose credible defense ranked third in the conference, yielding 133 yards rushing a game.

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The Buffaloes are more challenging under first-year coach Mike MacIntyre, who is proven on the defensive side of the ball. Bill Parcells hired him to coach Dallas’ defensive backs when Parcells coached the Cowboys. In 2009, the American Football Coaches Association recognized MacIntyre as FBS Assistant Coach of the Year when he was the defensive coordinator at Duke.

Mike MacIntyre is trying to coach Colorado to its first winning season since 2005

Mike MacIntyre is trying to coach Colorado to its first winning season since 2005

He was hired by San Jose State in 2010 to take over for the retired Dick Tomey (Arizona’s former coach) and he improved the Spartans from 1-12 in his first year to 10-2 two years later.

Colorado (3-3) is now talking bowl bid this year under MacIntyre. The Buffaloes have not had a winning season since 2005, the final year of Gary Barnett’s tenure. Dan Hawkins and Jon Embree were both fired after failing to get the Buffaloes above .500.

Colorado has games against Arizona, Washington, USC, California and Utah. All have a losing record in the conference.

If a bowl is not achieved this year, it will in years to come under MacIntyre. He has played nine true freshmen this season including quarterback Sefo Liufau and running back Michael Adkins II, who both made their first start against Charleston Southern last week.

Liufau was 14-for-20 for 198 yards and a touchdown in his first start. Adkins ran for 137 yards on 13 carries more than 10 yards a rush and scored four touchdowns to set a school record for a freshman.

WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.

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