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Arizona Hosts Mississippi State for Home Opener

Sep 5, 2022

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Arizona Wildcats (1-0) return to Tucson for their 2022 home opener this Saturday, Sept. 10 against Mississippi State. Kickoff at Arizona Stadium is slated for 8:00 p.m. MST with a national television broadcast booked for FS1.

Arizona came away victorious in their season opener last weekend, taking down San Diego State on the road for their first 1-0 start since 2017. Quarterback Jayden de Laura and wide receiver Jacob Cowing connected for three touchdown passes, while freshman phenom wideout Tetairoa McMillan was on the other end of de Laura's fourth scoring toss of the afternoon.

The Wildcats look to continue their hot start to the 2022 season with the Mississippi State Bulldogs in town.

A complete preview of the Wildcats 2022 home opener can be found below.
ARIZONA NOTES & NUMBERS

  • The Arizona Wildcats welcome SEC foe Mississippi State to Arizona Stadium for their 2022 home opener on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. MST.
  • Saturday's game will be nationally televised on FS1 with Alex Faust (PxP) and Petros Papadakis (Analyst) on the call.
  • Arizona is 91-21-5 all-time in home openers, but have lost each of their last two. The Wildcats last home-opening win came against Northern Arizona on Sept. 7, 2019, a 65-41 victory.
  • This is the first all-time meeting between Arizona and Mississippi State. The Wildcats are 1-5-1 all-time against SEC opponents.
  • Arizona's 38 points in last weekend's win over SDSU was the team's highest single-game scoring output since 2019. The Wildcats scored 20+ points only twice during the 2021 season and surpassed the mark in the first half at SDSU.
  • For their performances in Arizona's season-opening win, quarterback Jayden de Laura was selected by the media as the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, while Jalen Harris earned Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week honors.
  • During the offseason, the Wildcats signed a nationally lauded recruiting class that ranked second in the Pac-12 and 22nd nationally. Arizona's 2022 class included wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan, a five-star recruit and the highest ranked prospect in program history.
  • Punter Kyle Ostendorp earned Preseason First Team All-Pac-12 honors, while wide receiver Jacob Cowing and defensive lineman Kyon Barrs earned a spot on the Second Team. Defensive back Christian Roland-Wallace earned Honorable Mention recognition.

33 — Wide receiver Jacob Cowing has recorded 33 consecutive games with at least one reception, tied for the second-longest active streak among FBS players.

74 — Junior offensive lineman Jordan Morgan played all 74 snaps and did not allow a sack or a QB hurry in the season opener at San Diego State.

91 — Arizona is 91-21-5 all-time in home openers but have lost two in a row. The last home-opening win came against Northern Arizona 65-41 on Sept. 7, 2019.

3 — Cowing hauled in 3 touchdowns at SDSU, marking the first three-score game by a player making their Power Five debut since Michael Crabtree in 2007.

6-0 — Quarterback Jayden de Laura is 6-0 in his college career when throwing for 3+ touchdowns.
 

VERSUS MISSISSIPPI STATE AND THE SEC: This is the first all-time meeting between Arizona and Mississippi State. The Wildcats are 1-5-1 all-time against the Southeastern Conference (SEC), with their only win coming against Auburn 31-19 at Arizona Stadium on Sept. 11, 1976. It marks the first meeting against an SEC foe since 2006 when Arizona played Louisiana State (LSU) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

ABOUT LAST WEEKEND: The Wildcats won their season opener at San Diego State, 38-20, to earn the first road victory for Head Coach Jedd Fisch. It was Arizona's first road win since beating Colorado 35-30 on Oct. 5, 2019. Arizona improved to 84-30-5 all-time in season openers and snapped a four-year streak of season-opening losses. It was the Wildcats first season-opening win since a 62-24 victory over Northern Arizona in 2017, and their first season-opening win over an FBS opponent since taking down UTSA 42-32 in 2015. The Wildcats 38 points were the most scored by the program since a 56-38 loss to Oregon State on Nov. 2, 2019.

DESERT SWARMED: Arizona's defense held San Diego State to just 62 yards through the air, the fewest passing yards allowed since holding The Citadel to 21 yards through the air in week two of 2010. The Aztecs combined to go just 7-for-16 through the air with one interception. The Wildcat's defense forced a three-and-out on San Diego State's opening possession of the game, a feat accomplished just three times in 2021. Linebacker Jerry Roberts made a career-high 12 tackles to lead the Arizona defensive attack. Roberts bested his previous high of 10 against Utah in 2021. Junior safety Jaxen Turner picked up the Wildcats first interception of the year after Arizona logged just four during the 2021 season. It was Turner's first career INT.

MR. CONSISTENCY: Transfer wide receiver Jacob Cowing made an immediate impact for the Wildcats in their week one victory over San Diego State, hauling in eight catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns. With last weekend's performance and dating back through his time at UTEP, Cowing has now recorded at least one reception in 33 consecutive games, tied for the second-longest active streak among all FBS players. During that 33-game stretch, which includes every college game he has logged time in, Cowing has posted multiple catches 28 times and 5+ receptions 18 times.

JUST GETTING STARTED: Sophomore quarterback Jayden de Laura had a breakout first game with Arizona, throwing for 299 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to a 38-20 win on the road. He improved to 6-0 in his collegiate career when throwing three-plus touchdowns. De Laura's four touchdown passes were the most by an Arizona QB in their Wildcat debut since Anu Solomon threw four against UNLV in 2014. He completed 29-of-35 passes and connected with Jacob Cowing three times for touchdowns, as well as Tetairoa McMillan once for a TD. De Laura led Washington State to a 7-6 record and a berth in the Sun Bowl after throwing for 2,798 yards and 23 touchdowns on 227-for-359 passing. He was named 2021 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention. De Laura threw multiple touchdown passes in eight games and led WSU to their first Apple Cup victory since 2012. He earned Rose Bowl Game Pac-12 Player of the Week honors after win over Oregon State in which he threw for a career-high 399 yards and three scores. As a first-year freshman in 2020 went 78-of-129 passing for 886 yards and five touchdowns in four games. De Laura prepped at powerhouse program St. Louis High School in Honolulu and helped lead program to two state championships. He went 11-0 and won state as a junior to earn second team All-Hawaii recognition. Followed that up with an undefeated season as a senior, steering team to 12-0 finish and another state championship. De Laura was honored as a High School All-American according to MaxPreps. He was named 2019 Hawai'i Gatorade Player of the Year. De Laura, as a senior in 2019, threw for 3,452 yards and 29 touchdowns on 228-of-319 passing. Up for a challenge? De Laura's full name is: Jayden pukonakona ha'awi mai na makua ha 'ele mai ka hiapo e wili 'ia me ke aloha de Laura.

A GAME OF FIRSTS: Head Coach Jedd Fisch led the Wildcats to their first road victory under his leadership and the first road win of his coaching career. Freshman wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan made the first touchdown reception of his collegiate career on a six-yard pass from de Laura. Junior wide receiver Jacob Cowing posted a career performance during his first game with the Wildcats, making eight catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns. It was the most receiving touchdowns in a debut for a Wildcat since Cayleb Jones hauled in three scores through the air against California on Sept. 20, 2014. It was the first time that a player making their Power Five debut scored three touchdowns since Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree in 2007. Redshirt freshman safety Dalton Johnson blocked a punt on SDSU's second drive, marking the first of his career. Last season, Arizona led the Pac-12 and ranked 17th nationally with two blocked punts. Running back DJ Williams set the tone on the ground in his first game with Arizona, gaining 88 yards and recording one touchdown.

BUILDING UNDER HEAD COACH JEDD FISCH: The Wildcats enter the second season of the Jedd Fisch era with a reenergized roster in tow. Coach Fisch and staff pulled in the No.21/No. 22 recruiting class nationally (per Rivals/247Sports) with key additions at multiple positions. That recruiting class ranked first (per Rivals) and third (per 247Sports) in the Pac-12 behind Oregon and Stanford. Fisch reeled in 23 commits with five four-stars and 18 three-stars. Arizona landed the highest-ranked recruit in program history, wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan out of Servite High School. A five-star prospect that was ranked No. 5 at his position. McMillan was joined by teammates Keyan Burnett (TE), a four-star tight end, and Noah Fifita (QB) a three-star QB, out of Servite HS in Anaheim. The success in recruiting marked one of the top classes in program history.

ON THE RUN: Senior running back DJ Williams gained a team-leading 88 yards and rushed for one touchdown during his Arizona debut against San Diego State. He averaged 6.29 yards per rush and recorded a long rush of 17 yards. It marked the third-most rushing yards in a single game for his career, and most since 2019 with Auburn. Williams joins the Wildcats after three seasons with Florida State (2021) and Auburn (2019-20). The running back room combined to gain 162 yards with freshman Jonah Coleman adding 42 yards on 13 attempts, junior Michael Wiley rushing six times for 34 yards, and freshman Rayshon 'Speedy' Luke adding 12 yards on four carries.

PAVING THE WAY: Offensive lineman Jordan Morgan appeared in all 74 offensive snaps and did not allow a sack or a hurry during the 20th game of his collegiate career last weekend at SDSU. Morgan was named to the preseason watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is presented to the FBS player who best combines exemplary community service with leadership achievements on and off the field. Morgan was one of 115 players to make the initial list. A native of Marana just north of Tucson, Morgan has established himself as a consistent force on the Wildcats offensive line. After appearing in eight games over his first two seasons in Tucson he took over the regular starting left tackle during the 2021 season, starting in each of Arizona's final 11 games of the year.

TREMENDOUS TRANSFER: Jacob Cowing (Jr.) had a breakout game during his debut with Arizona. He made eight catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns to help the Wildcats to a season-opening 38-20 win at San Diego State. The junior from Maricopa, Cowing was named to the Maxwell Award Watch List, Biletnikoff Award Watch List, East-West Shrine Bowl 1000, preseason Second-Team All-Pac-12, and the Reese's Senior Bowl Watch List. Cowing played three seasons at UTEP prior to transferring to Arizona. He led the Miners in receiving yards all three years, including a 2021 campaign in which he finished with 69 receptions for 1,354 yards and seven touchdowns. Cowing earned First Team All-Conference USA honors in 2021 and Second Team recognition in 2020. He finished the 2021 season ranked ninth nationally among all FBS players in receiving yards (1,354). For his career at UTEP, he hauled in 141 receptions, 2,595 yards and 13 touchdowns.

SERVITE CONNECTION: The Wildcats have four freshmen out of Servite High School entering the 2022 season. Tight end Keyan Burnett, quarterback Noah Fifita, linebacker Jacob Manu, and wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan. Fifita led Servite to an appearance in the 2021 CIF Southern Section title game, passing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns against Mater Dei. McMillan caught 15 passes for 163 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first meeting between the two teams.

247SPORTS PRESEASON TRUE FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICAN TEAM: Freshman offensive lineman Jonah Savaiinaea and freshman wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan made the 247 Sports preseason true freshman all-American team for 2022. These are players who have "next" in college football. It might be from Week 1 of the season, or it could be much later in the year, but these 247Sports Preseason True Freshmen All-Americans are players who will have an impact on the 2022 season, based on feedback from across our network of local scouts and analysts.

WILDCATS IN THE NFL: The Wildcats are once again well represented in the National Football League this year with nine former letterwinners active across the league. One of Arizona's most prestigious alumnus, tight end Rob Gronkowski, retired following the 2021 season after winning the fourth Super Bowl of his career. Gronk was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, a four-time First Team All-Pro selection, and was selected to the NFL's 2010s All-Decade Team and NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. Over 11 seasons with New England and Tampa Bay, Gronkowski recorded 9,286 yards (5th all time) and 92 touchdowns (3rd all time). Quarterback Nick Foles is in his 11th NFL season after rewriting the Wildcats record books during his time in Tucson. For a complete list of former Wildcats in the NFL, see the comprehensive chart below.

 
Current Wildcats on NFL Rosters

Player Position Team
Jace Whittaker CB Arizona Cardinals
Dane Cruikshank S Chicago Bears
Roy Lopez NT Houston Texans
Nick Foles QB Indianapolis Colts
Nick Folk K New England Patriots
J.J. Taylor RB New England Patriots
Gary Brightwell RB New York Giants
Will Parks S New York Jets
Demetruis Flannigan-Fowles LB San Francisco 49ers