Arizona vs. San Diego State: Game Preview, How To Watch, Odds, Prediction
Can the Aztecs beat Arizona to go 8-2 against PAC-12 since 2016?
A new era of Aztecs football begins on Saturday as SDSU opens its 100th season with the debut of Snapdragon Stadium.
WEEK 1: Arizona Wildcats vs. San Diego State Aztecs
WHEN: Saturday, September 3rd — 12:30 p.m. PST / 3:30 p.m. EST
WHERE: Snapdragon Stadium; Mission Valley, San Diego, CA (35,000)
WEATHER: Sunny, high of 88 degrees
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes CBS, by following this link.
RADIO: 101.5 KGB / XTRA 1360 / iHeart Radio App / SiriusXM ch. 383
SERIES RECORD: This will be the 17th matchup between these two schools. Arizona leads SDSU, 10-6.
LAST MEETING: SDSU defeated the Wildcats in Arizona, 38-14, on September 11, 2021.
ODDS: San Diego State -6
SP+ PROJECTION: San Diego State by 16.3
FEI PROJECTION: San Diego State by 11.2
PARKER FLEMING PROJECTION: San Diego State 72.38% win probability (27.60 to 19.34)
San Diego, CA- The Aztecs kick off their 100th season on Saturday, September 3rd, at the amazing new Snapdragon Stadium. It is SDSU’s first true home game since 2019. It is also SDSU’s long-awaited return to a dedicated Aztecs football venue after fifty-plus years. Home field advantage is an understatement.
Jedd Fisch‘s Arizona Wildcats are rebounding from a 1-11 season, with their sole win coming against a Cal team hamstrung by COVID-related protocols. The Wildcats fell from grace under former coach Kevin Sumlin and Fisch was brought in to turn the program around. He previously served as the New England Patriots’ quarterbacks coach in 2020 and his hire was considered baffling by many. In his first season, Arizona lost by an average of two touchdowns per game. By all measures, Fisch missed the mark all season.
Headed into year two, though, the Wildcats compiled the third-best recruiting class in the Pac-12, with five four-star prospects. Some fans have faith that the Wildcats will be back on solid footing soon enough, but others are skeptical.
The transfer portal is the wild card this season, and Arizona has upgraded vital pieces of their program. Former Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura will be connecting with former UTEP wide receiver Jacob Cowing and the Wildcats could find a new gear with this dynamic duo.
WHY THE WILDCATS WILL WIN
There are just three words that might adequately explain an Arizona win:
THE TRANSFER PORTAL.
The transfer portal can be an accelerator, a kingmaker, for universities willing to expend the resources and convince disenfranchised players that the program is amassing the next plug-and-play football dynasty. Not convinced? Just ask Utah State or Western Kentucky fans then take a look at these NFL week 16 odds.
In Tucson, de Laura and Cowing are expected to be the Wildcats’ new stars, but other transfer portal arrivals like defensive end Hunter Echols, running back DJ Williams, and linebacker Jeremy Mercier could all be key role players in the fight against San Diego State, as well.
The Wildcats do return eight starters, as well, including nose tackle Kyon Barrs and cornerback Christian Roland-Wallace. With decent size up front, the Arizona defense could be Power 5-ready. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the Aztecs are also Power 5-caliber on that side of the ball.
WHY THE AZTECS WILL WIN
Aztecs defense is stellar. Last year the Aztecs ranked 12th in total defense (324.4 ypg) and 17th in scoring defense (19.8 ppg). In addition to the great scoring defense, the Aztecs secondary, including first-team All-Mountain West safety Patrick McMorris is just deep and formidable. McMorris led last season with four picks to help the Aztecs reach a conference high 17 interceptions. SDSU is flush with talented safeties and cornerbacks, and Arizona will find themselves harassed and harried by SDSU’s persistent pic-six perniciousness.
On offense, the Aztecs will complement their rock solid ground game with a better-than-expected air game, compliments of quarterback duo Braxton Burmeister and Will Haskell. Wide receivers Jesse Matthews, Tyrell Shavers, and Brionne Penny will be looking to show tailbacks Chance Bell, Jordan Byrd and USC transfer Kenan Christon that Running Back University is upgrading its air force.
Also notable: Arizona isn’t the only beneficiary of the transfer portal. The Aztecs have picked up some talented new additions themselves…
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
Journeyman coach Jedd Fisch will likely end up with a better season in 2022 than 2021, having assembled a talented squad. Yet, despite the Wildcats’ transfer portal gems, the Aztecs are prepared to enter this game with the skill to handle their opponents. The momentum of a stellar 2021 season, a 100th anniversary and a brand new football cathedral will all produce a mighty tailwind. The Aztecs are going to decisively defeat Arizona, and further reinforce that they are highly PAC-12 worthy.
Final Score: San Diego State 33, Arizona 17