TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona opened the season with a loss to a best-of-five program after falling to an 18-point hole, extending its losing streak to 13 games.
The Wildcats see it as progress.
While a win would have been nice, Arizona kicked off the Jedd Fisch era with a decent performance last weekend, nearly rallying to beat BYU in Las Vegas. The Wildcats could have folded after the early big hole, but they fought back and did enough good things to make them believe the losing streak will end soon — maybe Saturday at home against San Diego State.
“I think our team improved throughout the game,” Fisch said this week. “I think what’s going to happen is we’re just going to get even better next week and then more next week and more next week. If we continue to know how not to lose games, we will start winning a lot more. »
Arizona desperately needs a win.
The Wildcats haven’t won since 2019, a losing streak that included a 70-7 loss to rival Arizona State.
Fisch was hired to rebuild the program after Kevin Sumlin was fired and did all the right things in the offseason, generating buzz in the wilderness.
The Wildcats stumbled early against BYU at the home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, but recovered behind quarterback Gunner Cruz. Although Arizona couldn’t complete the comeback in the 24-16 loss, there were enough signs on both sides of the ball to at least see the corner they needed to turn instead of being buried behind it.
The Wildcats are even favorites in their home opener, a first since 2019.
“We’re all going to get better,” Fisch said. “We’re all going to be looking to see what we can call better, what we can do better.”
San Diego State will also be looking to get off to a better start.
The Aztecs stumbled out of the gate in their home opener and had eight penalties for 81 yards, but played a superb second half to beat New Mexico State 28-10. San Diego State had three second-half interceptions and running back Greg Bell rushed for 163 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown.
“It’s much easier to make corrections and (work on) the fundamentals and all the other things that we did wrong this game when you win a game, instead of losing the game,” the coach said. of the Brady Hoke Aztecs.
San Diego State punter Matt Araiza had a strong first season.
The junior set a school record averaging 56.8 yards on nine punts and pinned New Mexico State inside the 20 on four occasions. His average is the second highest in the FBS in the last 26 years with at least nine punts.
“When you look at the 100 yards he saved us, it was amazing what he did,” Hoke said. “The other thing is how low the punt team got down the field and how well they covered. It was really 11 guys doing their job playing together.
San Diego State is 48-2 all-time when rushing for at least 200 yards after rushing for 248 last week. … Cruz set school records for completions (34) and pass attempts (45) for a quarterback in his starting debut since at least 1980. … The Aztecs are 5-2 against Pac-12 opponents since 2016, best non-conference record against the conference (minimum five games). … Stanley Berryhill III set career highs with 12 receptions and 102 yards against BYU.
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