NCAAF: Arizona at Hawai’i

PAC-12 Logo     The Arizona Wildcats travel to Honolulu to face the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors in a season opening matchup.  This game will be played on opening night and has a time slot all to itself, sure to draw a national crowd.  Will one of these teams prove to be championship caliber or both fall into the sands of time?

The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors expect improvement to last year’s 8-6 record.  This is likely to occur with the return of 17 starters, 8 on offense, 9 on defense.  The quarterback, Cole McDonald, returns with his top receiving threat on an offense that finished last season 9th in the country in passing yards per game.  The biggest weakness of this offense has been the running game (109.6 ypg) but returns four offensive lineman which should open up holes for the backs and relieve some of the pressure from the passing game.  The defense will need a big turnaround as they finished last season ranked lower than 100 in 3 of the 4 major statistical defensive categories.  Luckily, the Rainbow Warriors have some senior leadership and return almost every starter from last season.  The experience on that side of the ball will help and these Warriors will be too proud to just lay down.

The Arizona Wildcats come in hoping for a turnaround in year 2 under Coach Kevin Sumlin.   With star quarterback Khalil Tate, the offense looks to be primed for a breakout year.  Not only do most teams make the biggest jump from year 1 to year 2 in a new system but the Wildcats also return 8 starters on offense.  The offense wasn’t terrible last year (31.3 ppg) and has the potential to be much better this year.  Regardless of how strong the offense is, it can only carry you so far if the defense struggles as much as it did last season.  Arizona finished last place in pass defense for the PAC-12 last season and was one of the worst teams defending the pass in the nation!  This team is too talented to struggle this much defensively on an annual basis so, expect them to play better this year.

The game should provide plenty of fireworks and be a nice encore to the defensive slugfest that the Florida-Miami game looks to be shaping up as.  Expect the Arizona Wildcats from the PAC-12 to be far superior to the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors from the Mountain West.  The talent level that each of these schools recruit at are not close and it will show on the field.  With both teams fielding struggling defenses, expect plenty of points.  The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 45-26 Arizona Wildcat victory.  Until next time, good luck.

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PAC-12: Wide-Open West Makes Things Intriguing

PAC-12 Logo     This time, Elldee Sports is looking out west to preview the PAC-12 Conference.  2019 appears to be a year that multiple teams can make the claim of being the top dog.  so who will emerge victorious and represent this power conference at the highest levels?  Let’s find out.

Starting in the uber-competitive North, the Oregon Ducks, Washington Huskies, and Washington State Cougars will duke it out for supremacy and a ticket to the conference championship game.  The Ducks are coming off of a 9-win season, bring in the top recruiting class in the conference, and return virtually every starter from a top 25 nationally-ranked scoring offense!  The cupboard is not bare on the other side of the ball, either, as the defense returns 7.  Honestly, most years, I think they would be a shoe in to win the conference but according to the Elldee Sports Formula, Oregon will drop back-to-back games to the teams from the state of Washington and finish third in the North with 10 wins.

Washington and Washington State are the cream of the crop in the PAC-12 North and these two cannot stand each other.  Chris Petersen is a proven great all-around coach but Mike Leach is possibly the best offensive mind in college football today.  Leach has the Cougars primed with 13 returning starters from a group that surprised last season and won 11 games.  Petersen, on the other hand, has to re-mold a defense that only returns two players in their 22-man rotation.  Washington has had the recruiting cache over the previous years that the talent level is there, they just need to see how fast the youngsters pick up the game plan.  Washington state has more returning starters but lost arguably their top player after QB Gardner Minshew graduated.  Luckily, Leach’s name carries a lot of weight and they picked up the top FCS QB in the country, ensuring the offense will be in good hands.  The North will come down to the Apple Cup in Seattle but the Cougars will exact revenge from their 13-point loss in Pullman last season and become the North Champion.

The PAC-12 South is a different story altogether, as Utah looks to have a stranglehold on the division.  In fact, Utah and USC are the only two schools that have a head coach who has been at the school more than a year.  That continuity and blue collar work ethic is what will set the Utes apart from their South Division brethren.  Expect Utah to only lose two games this season, a home game to Washington State and a trip to Seattle to play Washington.  The gap between Utah and the next best team in the division means that even those two losses will not keep them out of the PAC-12 Championship game.

The PAC-12 Championship game will create a rematch between Washington State and Utah.  This is an opportunity for Utah to save face and show the first match-up was a fluke.  The problem, though, is that the first game was not a fluke and if the Utes couldn’t win in Salt Lake City, why would they win in Santa Clara?  Give the nod to Washington State 9-7 which will propel the Cougars into the College Football Playoffs for the first time ever as a #4 seed!  Until next time, good luck!

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