Coach: Jedd Fisch (second season)
Offensive coordinator: Brennan Carroll (second season)
Defensive coordinator: Johnny Nansen (first season)
2021 record: 1-11/1-8
Last postseason appearance: 2017 Foster Farms Bowl (lost to Purdue)
Best-case 2022 scenario: 6-6
Worst-case 2022 scenario: 2-10
Projected starting quarterback: Jayden de Laura
Key question: Will the offseason roster upgrades translate into a significant uptick in victories before the honeymoon phase of Fisch’s tenure vanishes?
Here we go …
Sept. 3: at San Diego State
Comment: The Wildcats stun SDSU in the inaugural game at Snapdragon Stadium as de Laura makes all the plays down the stretch.
Sept. 10: vs. Mississippi State
Comment: The last time Mike Leach set foot in Arizona Stadium (2017), his team scored 37 points in a loss. This time, he’ll get 37 and a victory.
Sept. 17: vs. North Dakota State
Comment: NDSU is a first-class FCS program that produced Carson Wentz and Trey Lance. But the Wildcats learned a brutal lesson last year against Northern Arizona and will be ready for the task.
Sept. 24: at Cal
Comment: It’s only the fourth game, but Arizona’s grueling non-conference schedule exacts a physical toll. The Wildcats are flat, and flattened.
Oct. 1: vs Colorado
Comment: Back home and reeling from the beatdown in Berkeley, the Wildcats show they aren’t the worst team in the conference.
Oct. 8: vs. Oregon
Comment: We were tempted to pick an upset given how this series has played out in Tucson over the decades. But that feels a tad too obvious. Ducks win, and it’s not close in the fourth quarter.
Oct. 15: at Washington
Comment: The Huskies haven’t forgotten de Laura planting the WSU flag on their turf following the ’21 Apple Cup. On this day, they plant him into the turf, repeatedly.
Oct. 22: idle
Comment: Perfect timing, given what lies ahead.
Oct. 29: vs. USC
Comment: We expect significant improvement from Arizona’s defense (partly because the offense will be competent). But the Wildcats don’t have the back-line personnel to contain USC’s aerial game. Bet the over, whatever it is.
Nov. 5: at Utah
Comment: If the Wildcats hadn’t given Utah a first-class scare last season, they might have a chance to do just that this time around. But alas …
Nov. 12: at UCLA
Comment: Four quarters in Salt Lake City is no way to prepare for UCLA’s punishing ground game. Bruised, battered and staggering, the Wildcats put up little resistance in the Rose Bowl.
Nov. 19: vs. Washington State
Comment: How will de Laura respond emotionally to facing his former team? Not as well as his former team responds emotionally to facing him.
Nov. 25 (Friday): vs. ASU
Comment: Herm Edwards sent Kevin Sumlin packing two years ago with a 70-7 wipeout. Will Fisch do the same to Edwards? Quite possibly, although we can’t imagine the Wildcats scoring more than 65.
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