Pac-12 play begins this week, and the No. 23 Utah Utes will kick things off against the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson on Friday night.
Coming off a 2016 season in which they went 3-9 (1-8 in conference play), their first losing season since 2011, the Wildcats were picked over the summer to finish dead last in the Pac-12.
Entering Friday’s game, Arizona is exactly where it was at this point a year ago as far as record is concerned at 2-1. It beat up on Northern Arizona 62-24 in the season-opener, then lost to Houston 19-16 the next week. The Cougars received one vote in this week’s AP poll.
Last Friday, the Wildcats beat up on UTEP in El Paso, 63-16, which in part led to Miners offensive coordinator Brent Pease getting fired on Sunday. On Monday, Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez held his weekly press conference, where he reviewed the win over the Miners and previewed the game against the Utes.
You can watch the Arizona-UTEP game here.
Also on Monday, the Arizona Daily Star’s Michael Lev looked back at the game, and touched on some items that could come into play on Friday. He noted how good quarterback Brandon Dawkins looked, a two-back set featuring J.J. Taylor and Nick Wilson and freshman linebacker Colin Schooler.
“You’d like to think Dawkins turned a corner Friday night, but he still has to prove he can play at that level against a Pac-12 opponent,” Lev wrote. “So do all the Wildcats, frankly.”
In a separate piece, Lev delved deeper into Dawkins’ performance against the Miners.
Lev’s colleague at the Arizona Daily Star, Greg Hansen, wrote a column Monday chronicling Darren Carrington’s arrival at Utah after getting kicked off the Oregon football team earlier this summer.
Given that the game is on Friday, it was recommended in a letter that campus supervisors allow as many employees and students to not go to campus as possible.
Friday’s game will be “Star Wars Night” at the stadium.