Have to say, I usually don’t disagree so strongly with those ‘pundits’ that are in their positions of national prominence, but...
I’ll have to strongly disagree with Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica from ESPN on this one.
He currently states that the safe bet for team win totals is taking the ‘under 4.5 wins’ from the Arizona Wildcats football team.
And I just don’t see it. I think it’s a morbid undersell of quarterback Grant Gunnell and his ability based on what he showed a year ago, even with Khalil Tate in the lineup.
Gunnell is one of the rare breeds of quarterback who can sling it with terrific trust in his arm and grasp of his offense. This will be a wildly different team without Tate in the backfield, but with the pieces they return in 2020, I think that 5-win plateau is easily obtainable.
Let’s take a look at the schedule:
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors — Week 1
This is a win. It’s at home against an Hawaii team who’s breaking in a new coach and new full-time starting quarterback. (1-0)
Portland State Vikings — Week 2
A win. It’s a home. It’s against an FCS school. (2-0)
Stanford Cardinal — Week 3
This can go either way at this rate as each quarterback for these two teams should have two starts as the lead man in the offense and Davis Mills and Gunnell will battle it out for star future of the conference. At this point, I’d take Stanford. (2-1)
@ Texas Tech Red Raiders — Week 4
The Wildcats beat the Red Raiders a season ago, albeit at home, so who’s to say they can’t do it again in Lubbock? This one comes down to the health of Alan Bowman at QB for Texas Tech and if healthy, I think the Red Raiders grab revenge. (2-2)
@ UCLA Bruins — Week 6
Gunnell > Dorian Thompson-Robinson, so give me a W here. (3-2)
Colorado Buffaloes — Week 7
Another team breaking in a new starting quarterback and a new head coach in Karl Dorrell, who actually hasn’t even been able to meet his team in person yet. Give me a W. (4-2)
USC Trojans — Week 8
Likely a loss, sorry Wildcats fans. (4-3)
@ Washington Huskies — Week 9
Don’t rule out a surprise here with the Huskies ALSO breaking in a new coach and new quarterback. We won’t truly know what to make of this Washington team on offense until September. I’m still taking Washington, just based on their defense. (4-4)
Oregon Ducks — Week 10
Yeah, again, even though they’re breaking in a new offensive line sans Penei Sewell and a new quarterback, give me the Ducks here. (4-5)
@ Utah Utes — Week 11
No Tyler Huntley, no Zack Moss, no _______ on defense. This Utah team lost a ton across the field and this could widely be seen as a true rebuilding year for the Utes. I’d take a healthy Gunnell to go into Rice-Eccles Stadium and grab a W. (5-5)
@ Oregon State Beavers — Week 12
As much as I love the Beavers and what head coach Jonathan Smith is building, this one has Gunnell cementing his place as one of the top returning quarterbacks for 2021 all over it, with a bowl-clinching victory. (6-5)
Arizona State Sun Devils — Week 13
And as good as Jayden Daniels was a season ago, they lose Brandon Aiyuk and Eno Benjamin on offense, and Gunnell vs Daniels is something to be excited for. Not going to pick this one because we’ve already crushed the 4.5 win total. I’d sit back and be happy watching two young guns duke it out for Grand Canyon State supremacy.
I mean, listing it out that way is easy, right? I see 6-7 wins and I think that line should be closer to 5.5 than 4.5 from the Vegas oddsmakers but certainly not taking the under.
C’mon Sumlin, don’t let me down.
Actually, more like c’mon Grant, don’t let me down.