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2011 Arizona Wildcats Football Preview Predictions and Schedule
Mike Stoops enters his 8th year as head coach of the Arizona Wildcats. His overall record with the program is 40-45. It took him 5 years to produce a winning record, going 8-5 in 2008 followed by another 8-5 run in 2009 and then a 7-5 season last year. He's taken the Wildcats to 3 straight Bowl games, losing 2 out of 3 with the losses, the past two seasons, not even close.
You get the feeling Stoops has done just about all he can do at Arizona. There doesn't look to be anything to suggest that this team has more than 8 wins in it. In fact, this year looks to be a challenge as the offense will have 5 new offensive line starters. They do return several key players at the skill positions though, including potential NFL QB Nick Foles, their leading rusher as well as some nice receivers including Juron Criner. Defensively they return just 5 starters and look to be thin at linebacker which was a strength last season.
Last season Arizona took advantage of a soft early schedule which saw them propel to a 7-1 start. But things got ugly down the stretch when the schedule toughened up. They lost their last 5 games, to Stanford, USC, Oregon, Arizona State and then their Bowl game to Oklahoma State. This year, it's as if the schedule makers were playing a cruel joke on the Wildcats. After opening up against Northern Arizona, they must play At Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon and USC.
From a betting standpoint, if you like the revenge angle (we do), you'll get a chance to use it early and often with Arizona with 4 in a row right out of the gate after their opener against Northern Arizona. We'll know almost immediately if that angle is worth pursuing and in fact, if Arizona in general has any hope this season when they square off against a loaded Oklahoma State team September 8th in a rematch of the Alamo Bowl, a 36-10 loss.
If we see a competitive game against Oklahoma State, we then may have some nice opportunities to back Arizona. If they are blown off the field as they were in the bowl game, well, that will likely indicate a long and non profitable year for Arizona backers. The one positive to playing a very tough early schedule is that it could toughen the team up for the softer part of the schedule later in the year. When you go up against the cream of the crop early, and are continually frustrated as nothing seems to work, then you go up against the likes of a Washington or a Colorado, good things can happen. If in fact they do struggle early, it can also create line value for those games in the 2nd half of the season.
All in all it looks like a 6 or 7 win year for the Arizona Wildcats and likely a minor bowl game. Bookmakers have made Arizona an 8/1 shot to win the PAC 12.
2011-2012 Arizona Schedule
09/03/11 vs. Northern Arizona
09/08/11 at Oklahoma State
09/17/11 vs. Stanford
09/24/11 vs. Oregon
10/01/11 at USC
10/08/11 at Oregon State
10/20/11 vs. UCLA
10/29/11 at Washington
11/05/11 vs. Utah
11/12/11 at Colorado
11/19/11 at Arizona State
11/26/11 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
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