Mark your calendar for Dec. 16 and a trip to Las Vegas because that’s when College Football News (a USA Today affiliate) believes Arizona will play in the Las Vegas Bowl against Boise State.
The publication predicts the Wildcats will be the eighth Pac-12 team in the pecking order to land a bowl spot. It forecasts a dominating year for the conference with Washington repeating as a College Football Playoff participant and USC (Fiesta Bowl) and Stanford (Cotton Bowl) qualifying for “New Year’s Six” games.
Rich Rodriguez’s team did not make it to a bowl last season after struggling through a 3-9 season. A return to a bowl would save some face and make the program hopeful again of being competitive with the upper-tier of the conference (Oregon, Stanford, USC, UCLA and Washington).
Interesting to note, however, that College Football News rates Arizona No. 11 out of the 12 conference teams with Oregon State the only program behind the Wildcats entering the 2017 season.
“Will there ever be a defense?” the publication asks. “If and when everyone can stay/get healthy, the offense will be a terror – with the running game rolling in the Rich Rodriguez system – but can the defensive front seven stop anyone? On the plus side, there’s no way, no how the team will get hit by the ridiculous array of injures it suffered last year.”
CFN ranks Arizona’s quarterback situation No. 10 in the league.
“With Anu Solomon taking off for Baylor, Brandon Dawkins should have the full-time job,” CFN writes. “Maybe. He took over late last season, and while he was great running the ball, he struggled throwing it – to be nice. Khalil Tate wasn’t much better, but he’s neck-and-neck with Dawkins for the gig.”
For Arizona’s defense to be questioned and the Wildcats to be rated No. 11 and its quarterbacks No. 10 in the Pac-12, the Wildcats will have to make some upsets to claim the No. 8 spot in the conference’s pecking order come bowl season.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.