College Football Odds & Picks for Northern Arizona vs Arizona: Value on Wildcats
Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Arizona wide receiver Jacob Cowing.
Northern Arizona vs Arizona Odds
The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks and Arizona Wildcats are set to square off in Week 1 of the college football season on Saturday. The game will take place in Tucson and can be viewed on the Pac-12 Network at 10 p.m. ET.
Northern Arizona had a terrible 2022 season, with a 3-8 record as the final product. They are not expecting to be a real force in FCS play in 2023 either. Arizona has struggled in the Pac-12 the past few seasons, and now, with USC, Utah, and Washington to deal with, their chances seem even more slim.
This battle of Arizona is intriguing on paper, especially considering that FBS-FCS matchups typically draw favorable lines for the FCS side.
Let's dive in and see if we can extract any value out of this one, with everything you need to know about Northern Arizona vs. Arizona odds and picks in this NCAAF betting preview for September 2.
Northern Arizona is interesting, to say the least. It was dreadful in 2022, with a nonexistent rushing attack and an offensive line that couldn't stop a single soul. This season seems like more of the same for the Lumberjacks. They will undoubtedly have their work cut out against a legitimate program like Arizona.
The lone bright spot in 2022 for NAU was that its pass rush was excellent on the FCS curve. Its best pass rushers are returning for the season, and that could help it keep the score down in a lopsided matchup overall.
This game will come down to NAU's ability to put points on the board, which is not a likely proposition. But if you want to keep up with Arizona's high-octane offense in 2023, you will need some variance to go your way regardless.
Northern Arizona's starting quarterback from last season, RJ Martinez, entered the transfer portal and is now with Baylor. In that regard, NAU has been somewhat left in the dust, with a likely spinning wheel of signal-callers figuring to work in and out.
If you remember, Northern Arizona upset Arizona back in 2021, which was truly a wild one. The situation is much different in 2023, and the likelihood of an outright win by the Lumberjacks is a tough sell.
Arizona is not a great football team holistically, but its offense remains one of the best in the Pac-12 heading into 2023.
Quarterback Jayden de Laura enters his second season in Tucson, following an excellent debut that featured 3,685 passing yards for the Wildcats.
Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch has given a vote of confidence to de Laura, and he's primarily expected to be the face of the program this year. The prototypical college football quarterback who can sling it and run it, NAU will have a tall task in stopping de Laura from finding pay dirt.
The Wildcats had an elite receiving corps last season, and while they still do, they will be without Dorian Singer, who transferred inside the conference to USC. Regardless, Jacob Cowing is likely to be de Laura's favorite target after finishing top-five in the conference with 1,034 receiving yards.
— Jordan Spurgeon (@spurge_) September 3, 2022
Arizona's offensive line will work wonders for the run game featuring Michael Wiley, a strong back looking to build on a solid 2022 that saw eight touchdowns and 6.8 yards per carry.
Well, that covers the offense. Things don't look as pretty on the other side of the ball.
Arizona has been regarded as an offensive powerhouse, but it will be brutal defensively. The program has not ranked in the top 100 in scoring defense in six seasons, which is unlikely to change in 2023.
Northern Arizona vs Arizona
Betting Pick & Prediction
Arizona is the better team overall, but sleeping on NAU is a bad idea. The Jacks have been a sneaky pest against FBS opponents who view them as a warm-up game, Arizona included.
That said, our projections have Arizona as a 26-point favorite. With lines not out yet, we're still backing Arizona, depending on the odds and lines we can get.
This game has all the makings of a high-scoring game loaded with defensive lapses, so laying four scores with an offense that features de Laura and Cowing isn't the worst idea.