Arizona quarterback Jaden de Laura threw for three TDs, and the defense held UTEP to 332 yards of offense to give the Wildcats their second victory of the season and a confidence boost heading into its Pac-12 season opener with the Stanford Cardinal.
First-year Head Coach Jedd Fish was understandably happy with the victory and cited the defense as the main reason why the Wildcats are now 2-1, telling reporters after the game
“I’m really, really proud of the way our defense is playing,” Arizona coach Jedd Fisch said. “Our defense is really stepping up.”
Widcats Defense Roars
The Wildcats defense has stepped up. Arizona allows 301 total yards per game and 44 points through their first three games. The Wildcats have forced at least one turnover in seven consecutive games dating back to last season.
This defensive group is in the top 30 nationally in the following defensive categories: rushing defense (24th, 90.7), scoring defense (t-26, 14.7), 4th down conversion percentage defense (9th, .200; 1st in Pac-12), red zone defense (7th, .556; 1st in Pac-12), and first down defense (21st).
de Laura has a Day
de Laura has been steady this season. He threw for 285 yards and three TDs against UTEP. He spoke with reporters after the game about his offense,
“I just let them make plays,” de Laura said. “I don’t need to do too much. That’s what we saw on the film.”
It was a strong bounceback from the four interceptions he threw in the Wildcats overtime away loss against Mississippi State. He’ll need to continue this form against a Stanford defense allowing 342 passing yards per game.
Stanford Falls to Sacramento State
Stanford fell to 1-2 after being upset by FCS school Sacramento State 30-23. Hornets QB Kaiden Bennett threw a 49-yard scoring strike with 1:32 remaining on the clock to secure the upset. Stanford Head Coach Troy Taylor had this to say to reporters after the loss;
“We obviously have a ton of improvement to make and we have a long year to do it,” Taylor said. “It’s back to work and continue to chip away and continue to build.”
Arizona vs Stanford Betting Analysis
The Wildcats are -12.5 favorites to win this game, but my best bet is Stanford Under 60.5 (-110) at DraftKings Arizona.
Arizona moves the ball nicely on offense, but de Laura chucked four interceptions in his only away game and threw 13 interceptions overall last season. They should be able to score enough to cover the spread against a Cardinal defense, allowing 456 yards of offense per game.
Dating back to 2010, Stanford is riding a six-game winning streak over Arizona. The Wildcats are a different team with a better defense in 2023, but betting -455 on the moneyline is strictly for parlay cards only.
I chose the 60.5 total because the Stanford offense is a mess. They have a first-year head coach, and he hasn’t settled yet on a starting quarterback, and they ride the hot hand. The Cardinal is No. 75 in total offense, 99th in passing yards, and 50th in rushing offense, but that won’t score more than 17 points against Arizona.
Finally, the Arizona offense isn’t going to light up the Cardinal, but they won’t need to. The Wildcats will lean on the defense score when they can, and this game ends Under 60.5 (-110) at DraftKings.
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