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ASU Football Opponent Primer: Arizona Wildcats

How will the Cats look?

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Arizona Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State 2019 Schedule

Kent State (Aug. 29) - Read

Sacramento State (Sept. 6) - Read

At Michigan State (Sept. 14) - Read

Colorado (Sept. 21) - Read

At Cal (Sept. 27) - Read

Washington State (Oct. 12) - Read

At Utah (Oct. 19) - Read

At UCLA (Oct. 26) - Read

USC (Nov. 9) - Read

At Oregon State (Nov. 16) - Read

Oregon (Nov. 23) - Read

Arizona (Nov. 30)

Arizona’s 2018 Season

The Wildcat season was quite the rollercoaster. They opened the season with back-to-back losses to BYU and Houston, which the Cougars blew out Arizona. They quickly bounced back to .500 after to wins over worse competition in Southern Utah and Oregon State. After splitting contests against USC and Cal, Arizona dropped two straight road games to Utah and UCLA.

They turned it around by killing a ranked Oregon squad and Colorado. Washington State routed them and they needed to beat ASU to be bowl eligible. Instead blew a 19-point lead and finished 5-7.

Key Returners

QB Khalil TateTate, who many thought had a shot at the Heisman preseason last year, disappointed. His passing numbers rose in terms of yards and touchdowns, of course he had a lot more attempts, but also had less interceptions. The running numbers dropped exponentially from over 1400 yards to slightly more than 200. If he can put the two together, Tate will make a major impact for the Wildcats.

RB J.J. Taylor Taylor picked up the rushing slack from Tate. With 1434 yards in only 12 games last season, Taylor finished ranked seventh in the nation and second in the Pac-12 behind only Eno Benjamin. He seems the junior running back is ready to continue to be the workhorse for the Wildcat backfield.

Biggest Losses

WR Shawn PoindexterWith a 6-foot-5 frame, Poindexter was able to grab a lot of jump balls as ASU fans saw in the Territorial Cup last season. He led the Wildcats in both receiving yards and touchdowns at 759 and 11 respectively. That will be a lot of production for Arizona to replace.

DT P.J. Johnson — The seventh round pick of the Detroit Lions was a big man. Johnson, weighing in at over 300 pounds and six feet tall, had the second most tackles for a loss last season. Three of those were sacks and the rest in the running game. He was able to fill holes and now a year removed from allowing 162.5 yards per game in 2018, Arizona will have their own hole to fill.

Reasons why ASU Could Win

On paper, it seems the Sun Devils are more talented. They’ll have the home advantage this season, which plays a part in nearly any rivalry game. As mentioned before, the rushing defense might be worse than last year. Eno Benjamin had three touchdowns last year and has claimed he wants to be the most hated guy in Tucson, well, he might be a bowling ball come November.

Reasons why ASU Could Loss

For all the jokes about blowing a 19-point lead, Arizona most times in that situation last season in Tucson wins that game. For most of the contest, the Wildcats were the better team. If Tate returns to form and it being a rivalry game, nearly anything can happen.