*Game is starting on ESPNews and will switch to ESPN at the conclusion of the Texas Tech-Houston game.
BYU (0-0) vs. Arizona (0-0)
- Kickoff: Saturday, 8:30 p.m. MDT
- Venue: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada (65,000 capacity)
- TV: ESPN
- Livestream: WatchESPN
- Radio: BYU Sports Network
- Series: Arizona leads 11-12-1
- Weather: Sunny with temperatures in the mid to low 90s at kickoff.
For BYU … The Cougars’ 2021 schedule is a tough one, and a win would get them off to a good start. Adding to that is the fact that a wide audience will probably have interest given BYU’s involvement in Big 12 Conference expansion talks this week.
For Arizona … The Wildcats will be playing their first game under new head coach Jedd Fisch and will be looking to get in the win column for the first time since Oct. 5, 2019, as they lost their last seven games of that season and all five during the shortened 2020 campaign.
For BYU … The Cougars have won four of their last five season openers, including contests against Arizona in 2016 and 2018. Their lone season opening loss in the last five years came in 2019 against rival Utah.
For Arizona … The Wildcats have been the exact inverse of the Cougars in their last five season openers, having lost four of them. Their lone season opening win in the last five years came in 2017 against Northern Arizona.
THE CRYSTAL BALL
BYU will win if … Its offense clicks. Truth be told, the Cougars are considered a heavy favorite, but they could run away with it if that side of the ball gets going early. There’s perhaps some uncertainty around starting quarterback Jaren Hall, but he’s got a bunch of weapons around him who should give a new Arizona defense problems.
Arizona will win if ... Its defense can be disruptive. Given that the Cougars are favored, it means the Wildcats are the underdogs, and they’ll have to play extremely well on both sides of the ball to get the win. That said, if Arizona can force turnovers and give its offense some shorter fields to work with, who knows what could happen?
PLAYER TO WATCH
Jaren Hall, BYU: Hall has started at quarterback a few times for BYU, but the team is fully his now after he won the job in camp. How will he perform against an Arizona defense that, although it’s rebuilding, is a Pac-12 Conference defense nonetheless and is coached by a legendary defensive coordinator in Don Brown?
BYU quarterback Jaren Hall vs. Arizona’s defense: As mentioned, all eyes will be on Hall to see how he performs with BYU’s starting quarterback job fully his.
There certainly will be intrigue and uncertainty on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats since this is their first game under a new coaching staff, but their defense could have an edge under Brown, who spent the last five seasons at Michigan and had multiple stops at Power Five programs before that.
Which relative inexperience will win out?
“We are not worried about anything but Arizona right now. All of our focus is on the Wildcats and that game in Vegas. That’s all we care about.”
— BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
“The more days you spend watching them, the more days you recognize why they are who they are, and how they got to being an 11-1 team (last season).”
— Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch on BYU
BYU hosts Utah on Sept. 11; Arizona hosts San Diego State, also on Sept. 11.
Sept. 4 — Arizona (8:30 p.m., ESPN)
Sept. 11 — vs. Utah (8:15 p.m., ESPN)
Sept. 18 — vs. Arizona State (8:15 p.m., ESPN)
Sept. 25 — vs. USF
Oct. 1 — at Utah State (7 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
Oct. 9 — vs. Boise State
Oct. 16 — at Baylor
Oct. 23 — at Washington State
Oct. 30 — vs. Virginia
Nov. 6 — vs. Idaho State (1 p.m., BYUtv)
Nov. 13 — BYE
Nov. 20 — at Georgia Southern (2 p.m., TV TBD)
Nov. 27 — at USC
All times MDT