Arizona looks to get back in the win column after suffering a 31-24 OT away defeat to Mississippi State. Wildcats junior quarterback Jayden de Laura threw for his 10th 300-yard game in a Wildcats uniform, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Bulldogs.
de Laura also threw for a pair of scoring strikes but also threw four interceptions in the loss. de Laura also led the Wildcats with 44 rushing yards and a TD, and it was de Laura’s rushing ability that drew high praise from Mississippi State Head Coach Bob Arnott;
“He’s extremely mobile. He’s really good at buying time,” Arnett said of de Laura. “We’ve got to go back and evaluate as coaches and figure out where the breakdowns were. I’m really proud of the defense because they had every opportunity to throw in the towel or not chase the ball hard.”
The de Laura interceptions, three in the first fifteen minutes of the game, hurt the Wildcats chances last week against the Bulldogs, but Arizona Head Coach Jedd Fisch had this to say about the junior signal-caller heading into their Week 3 encounter with UTEP;
“He’s played quarterback his whole life. There’s no question about that. And he’s grown up in a way that he is mentally tough. I didn’t feel a flinch from him. Now, maybe a year ago, I would have, maybe there would have been a little bit different attitude because I think it’s more about trust with Jayden, more than anything else. And if he believes that you believe in him, he’s not going to let you down, and he’s going to be in a spot where he’s going to be able to go out there and play, and that’s what I would expect. That’s what I expected. There was no flinch. For him to make that throw at the end of the half after throwing three interceptions. For him to lead us on a 19-play drive after three interceptions it’s pretty remarkable in a lot of ways. I don’t know if you see it everywhere. To go out there and then to make the plays he made, to make the scrambles he made, the throw to T-Mac in the endzone for a touchdown to tie it up. All those plays were big-time plays that came from a big-time player.”
UTEP vs. Arizona Betting Analysis
Arizona opened as a -17.5-point favorite at Caesars Sportsbook Arizona with a 56-point total when the two sides meet for the 54th time in their history. The Wildcats have won their past 13 consecutive meetings and covered a 25-point spread in their most recent contest in 2017.
UTEP brings the 68th-best scoring defense with a 99th-ranked passing defense in the country into Arizona Stadium on Saturday. de Laura and sophomore wideout Tetairoa McMillan should feast on the soft UTEP defensive secondary – the Miners do record 1.67 sacks per game. If the Wildcats O-Line can’t protect their quarterback, UTEP will have trouble containing the Arizona signal-caller, and he will eat.
Arizona allows the nation’s 43rd fewest points per game, and they meet the Miners’ 122nd scoring offense, averaging just over 16 points per contest. The Wildcats’ defense was shredded but the Bulldogs last week, and an extra incentive for this defense against a much softer UTEP offense.
Finally, I expect the Wildcats to cover the -17.5. They are 2-0 ATS and bring far more to the table than UTEP does. Arizona may get off to a slow start offensively, as they have in their first two games, but they are terrific finishers with tremendous size and the edge in the skilled positions on both sides of the ball. Take Arizona -17.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook.
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