Jedd Fisch has turned Arizona football around. Now, at 8-3, the Wildcats have a real scenario of making the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Don’t look now, but the Arizona Wildcats find themselves in an unexpected position—a legitimate shot at playing for and winning the Pac-12 title. Considering their preseason predictions and the challenges they’ve overcome, this turnaround is nothing short of remarkable.
Arizona football has positioned itself as a contender
At the start of the season, Arizona football was slated to finish eighth in the Pac-12, unranked, and facing low expectations. Fast forward to the present, and the Wildcats boast an 8-3 record, their best since 2014 under then-head coach Rich Rodriguez. For a team that won only one game in Jedd Fisch’s inaugural season as head coach, their current scenario is beyond mere bowl eligibility.
The Wildcats faced early setbacks, going 1-2 in Pac-12 play with narrow losses to then No. 7 Washington and No. 9 USC in a triple-overtime thriller. However, a remarkable turnaround followed, with Arizona securing five consecutive wins, four of which came against ranked Pac-12 opponents. This impressive streak has propelled them into contention for the Pac-12 Championship Game—a feat unimaginable earlier in the season.
What has to happen for Arizona Football to make the Pac-12 Championship Game
To make this Cinderella story a reality, a few more miracles are required. Firstly, Oregon State (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) needs to pull off an upset against Oregon (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12) on Black Friday evening. This seems unlikely with the way Oregon is currently playing, boasting the No. 2 total offense and No. 16 total defense in the country. Not to mention, the game is at the Ducks’ home in Autzen Stadium. But then again, this is a rivalry game, and the Beavers would love to upset the Ducks in what could be their last matchup for the foreseeable future.
On Saturday, Arizona (8-3, 6-2) must then secure their own victory against Arizona State (3-8, 2-6) in Tempe at Sun Devil Stadium. The odds are in the Wildcats’ favor, as they are currently an 11.5-point favorite, per FanDuel. But again, this is rivalry week, so anything could happen, and this year’s college football season hasn’t had a big upset week as of yet.
If both outcomes somehow materialize, Arizona football would tie Oregon for second place, winning the tiebreaker for a berth in the Pac-12 title game against Washington. Despite not playing each other, the Wildcats hold the tiebreaker based on other criteria, according to Jake Curtis at SI.
Of course, to seize the conference crown, Arizona would then have to defeat what’s likely to be a top-4 ranked Washington, should the Huskies beat Washington State on Saturday. Though 11-0, the Huskies have seemed far less dominating after their thrilling top-10 win over Oregon earlier in the season. Last week was impressive in that they held on to beat Oregon State in Corvallis, but they were outgained in nearly every category, minus turnovers, which ended up costing the Beavers the game in the end.
Arizona, meanwhile, has won their last five games, with three of those coming by three scores or more. It’s more than plausible that the Wildcats could cause an upset, beating the Huskies in Las Vegas, which in turn would most likely keep the Pac-12 out of the playoff.
In the hands of Fisch and their rising star, quarterback Noah Fifita, the Wildcats have transformed from underdogs to serious contenders. As they eye the Pac-12 title in the conferences last season, Arizona’s remarkable journey continues, leaving fans and pundits alike in awe of this unexpected ascent.