Arizona Football

Alamo Bowl: No. 14 Arizona (9-3) vs. No. 12 Oklahoma (10-2)

Noah Fifita is the identifiable leader of the Arizona Wildcats at quarterback (Gilbert Alcaraz/Special to

No. 14 Arizona Wildcats (9-3) vs. No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners (10-2)

What: Alamo Bowl

Date: Thursday

Site: Alamodome (capacity 73,086)

Kickoff: 7:15 p.m., Tucson time

TV: ESPN. Radio: 1290-AM (Varsity Network)

Series: Tied 1-1. Prior to Arizona’s victory over Oklahoma in 1989, the teams met for the first time the year previously in Norman, Okla. The Sooners won that first meeting 28-10. The Wildcats evened the series with a last-second 40-yard field goal by Doug Pfaff to beat the Sooners 6-3. … This is the first meeting between the teams in a bowl game. 

Odds: Arizona favored by 3.

Arizona coach: Jedd Fisch (15-21, third year overall and at Arizona)

Oklahoma coach: Brent Venables (16-9, second year overall and at Oklahoma)

When Arizona has the ball:

Run percentage: 46.6 percent (372 rushes)

Pass percentage: 53.4 percent (426 passes)

Jonah Coleman leads Arizona with 851 yards on 123 carries with five touchdowns while D.J. Williams and Michael Wiley have combined for 637 yards on 142 rushes with seven touchdowns. … Jayden de Laura was more of a running quarterback when he started at the position, gaining 121 hards on 21 carries with three touchdowns. Noah Fifita has 31 carries with a net gain of 2 yards. … Fifita’s leadership in the huddle and in the pocket has propeled Arizona to a 6-2 record — including a current six-game winning streak — since he became the starter Sept. 30 against Washington after de Laura went down with an ankle injury. The two losses with Fifita the starter were by a combined nine points to Washington and USC. The Wildcats took the Trojans to three overtimes before losing at the Coliseum. … Fifita, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, has completed 217 of 295 pass attempts for 2,515 yards with 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions. His 23 touchdowns is tied with South Florida’s Byrum Brown for the most by an FBS freshman this season. Fifita threw for a school-record 527 yards in Arizona’s last game, a 59-23 rout of rival Arizona State on Nov. 25 … Fifita balances his targets between receivers, tight ends and running backs. Arizona’s leader in receptions is Jacob Cowing with 83 for 696 yards and 11 touchdowns. The most prolific in yards is Tetairoa McMillan with 1,242 on 80 catches. He has 10 touchdown receptions. TE Tanner McLachlan is the No. 3 receiver with 42 catches for 500 yards and four touchdowns. Wiley is next with 28 receptions for 306 yards with five touchdowns. WR Montana Lemonius-Craig, a transfer from Colorado, has 291 yards receiving on 27 catches with three touchdowns. … Arizona will not start a senior on the offensive line with left tackle Jordan Morgan, a Marana graduate, opting out of the game to concentrate on the NFL draft. Third-year sophomore Joe Borjon is slated to start in his place. Redshirt freshman Wendell Moe is listed as the starter at left guard, junior Josh Baker at center, freshman Raymond Pulido at right guard and sophomore Jonah Saviinaea at right tackle. … Arizona ranks 17th nationally in total offense (453.4 yards per game), 12th in passing offense (304.5) and 79th in rushing offense (148.9).

Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year (12/5)
Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Finalist (12/1)
Shaun Alexander Award Freshman of the Week (11/25 – Week 13)
Pac-12 Freshman of the Week (11/25 – Week 13)
Manning Award Star of the Week (11/25 – Week 13)
Davey O’Brien Award Great 8 (11/25 – Week 13)
Pac-12 Freshman of the Week (11/6 – Week 10)
Davey O’Brien Award Great 8 (11/6 – Week 10)
Pac-12 Freshman of the Week (10/28 – Week 9)
Manning Award Star of the Week (10/28 – Week 9)
Davey O’Brien Award Great 8 (10/28 – Week 9)
Pac-12 Freshman of the Week (10/14 – Week 7)
Shaun Alexander Award Freshman of the Week (10/7 – Week 6)
Pac-12 Freshman of the Week (10/7 – Week 6)

Oklahoma LB Danny Stutsman, a second-team Walter Camp All-American and a third-team AP All-American, leads the Sooners with 99 tackles including 16 for loss. … All-Big 12 safety Billy Bowman Jr. is next in tackles with 61. He also has six interceptions, three of those returned for a touchdown — which leads the nation. … LB Jaren Kanak has 60 tackles, six for loss. … The top tackler on the defensive line is Ethan Downs, an end who has totaled 28 tackles (6.5 for loss), a team-high 4.5 sacks, one interception and six QB hurries. He is the ninth-leading tackler on the team. … Oklahoma is 79th in total defense (389.9 yards allowed per game), 60th in rushing defense (147.8) and 99th in passing defense (242.2).

When Oklahoma has the ball:

Run percentage: 54.4 percent (487 rushes)

Pass percentage: 45.6 percent (408 passes)

Oklahoma freshman QB Jackson Arnold will make his first career start as he takes over for Dillon Gabriel, who has transferred to Oregon since the end of the regular season. Gabriel passed for 3,660 yards and 30 touchdowns while completing 266 of 384 passes with just six interceptions. The 2022 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year at Guyer High School in Denton, Okla., Arnold threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns while completing 18 of 24 passes for the Sooners in a backup role to Gabriel. … WR Nic Anderson, similarily tall as McMillan at 6-foot-4, led the nation with 23.4 yards per reception as a freshman. He had nine touchdowns on 31 receptions. Anderson had at least 90 yards receiving in five games this season, including three of the previous four games. … Oklahoma’s top rusher, Gavin Sawchuk, has 610 yards on 105 carries with eight touchdowns. Tawee Walker (496 yards on 95 carries with seven touchdowns) is in the transfer portal but is expected to play. Gabriel was the Sooners’ third-leading rusher with 373 yards on 93 carries with a team-best 12 touchdowns, so expect Arnold to scramble and run. …  Sixth-year WR Drake Stoops, son of former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and nephew of former Arizona coach Mike Stoops, is playing in his final game with the Sooners. Drake Stoops tied for the Big 12 lead with 10 touchdown receptions this season. He leads the Sooners with 78 receptions for 880 yards. … The makeshift offensive line is decimated by transfers and players opting out for the NFL draft. Starters Andrew Raym (center) and Tyler Guyton (right tackle) opted out of the game to prepare for the NFL Draft, while Cayden Green, a freshman starter at left guard for five games, transferred to Missouri. Walter Rouse, a fifth-year senior who starts at left tackle, is playing despite the lure to stay injury free before the NFL draft. Caleb Shafer, another fifth-year senior, is expected to start in place of Green at left guard. Third-year sophomore Troy Everett is slated to start in place of Raym at center. Fifth-year senior McKade Mettauer will start at right guard. Jacob Sexton, a sophomore, will start at right tackle. He started in place of Guyton the last three games of the regular season because Guyton was injured. … Oklahoma is fifth in the country in total yards (502.4 a game), 35th in rushing offense (180.6) and sixth in passing offense (321.8). … The Sooners are using new offensive playcallers Seth Littrell and Joe Jon Finley, both of whom were promoted to co-offensive coordinators on Nov. 28 when former OC Jeff Lebby vacated the spot to become Mississippi State’s head coach. Littrell is a former co-offensive coordinator at Arizona. He was the offensive analyst and Finley the tight end coach when they were promoted.

Arnold will face an Arizona defense that allowed 229.6 yards passing per game, 72nd in the country. The Wildcats’ rushing defense is No. 20 allowing 111.3 yards a game. They are 38th in total defense (340.9). … Arizona LB Jacob Manu, a 5-foot-10, 211-pound sophomore, led the Pac-12 with 108 tackles. It was the first time a Wildcats player had 100-plus tackles since Colin Schooler in 2018 and was the 27th time in program history. … DE Taylor Upshaw, a transfer from Michigan, leads the Wildcats with 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. At this time last year, he was preparing with Michigan to play against TCU in the CFP semifinal game at the Fiesta Bowl. … Arizona tallied only six interceptions among six different players during the regular season. CB Tacario Davis is one of them and he was tied for third in the nation with 15 passes broken up. … S Treydan Stukes, a former walk-on, and CB Ephesians Prysock are All-Pac-12 honorable mention selections.

Special Teams

Arizona: PK Tyler Loop earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors making 16 of 21 attempts with a long of 52 yards. He also kicks off and had 66 touchbacks among his 76 kicks. … Kyle Ostendorp is averaging 42 yards per punt. … Arizona’s return game has not been productive with the longest punt and kickoff return being 23 yards.

Oklahoma: PK Zach Schmit has made 14 of 20 attempts with the longest of 46 yards. He is 2 of 5 in field goals of 40 or more yards. … Schmit has 48 touchbacks among his 88 kickoffs. … Gavin Freeman has an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown this season. Jalil Farooq averages 22.2 yards a kickoff return. His longest return is 62 yards. … P Luke Elzinga averages 44.1 yards per punt. Josh Plaster has also punted 14 times, averaging 40.3 yards.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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