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Arizona Opens Pac-12 Play at California

Sep 19, 2022

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Arizona Wildcats (2-1), hot off a week three victory, travel to Berkeley for their Pac-12 Conference opener against the California Golden Bears (2-1) on Saturday afternoon.

Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. MST with a television broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.

Arizona finished non-conference play with a 2-1 record after earning a road win over San Diego State and a home victory over defending FCS National Champions North Dakota State. For his impressive performance against NDSU, redshirt senior Hunter Echols earned Pac-12 Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week honors.

The Wildcats look to open their 2022 conference campaign with a road win over the Golden Bears, a matchup they have won six consecutive times.

A complete preview of the Wildcats Pac-12 opener can be found below.
ARIZONA NOTES & NUMBERS

  • The Arizona Wildcats travel to Berkeley for their Pac-12 Conference opener against the California Golden Bears on Saturday afternoon.
  • Saturday's game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks with J.B. Long (PxP) and Max Browne (Analyst) on the call.
  • Arizona holds a 19-14-2 edge over California in the all-time series that dates back to Oct. 14, 1978. The Wildcats currently ride a six game win streak over the Golden Bears dating back to 2010. Arizona is 8-8 all-time in Berkeley.
  • Two of head coach Jedd Fisch's four victories have come against California. Fisch topped Cal as the interim HC at UCLA in 2017 and again with Arizona in week nine of the 2021 campaign.
  • The Wildcats are 22-22 in Pac-12 openers and have lost each of their last two. Arizona last opened conference play against California in 2014, a 49-45 victory for the Wildcats in Tucson.
  • Redshirt senior defensive lineman Hunter Echols was tabbed as the Pac-12 Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week on Monday for his performance against NDSU. Echols finished the game with eight tackles (two of which went for a loss) one sack, and a pivotal forced fumble.
  • In victories over San Diego State and North Dakota State the Wildcats scored 38 and 31 points, respectively. This is the first time that Arizona has scored 30+ points multiple times in a season since 2019 when they did it five times and went 2-3 in those contests.
  • With their win last weekend, Arizona handed North Dakota State their first loss to an FBS team since dropping a 34-17 decision at Iowa State in 2009. The Bison had won six consecutive FBS matchups since 2010.

35 — WR Jacob Cowing has recorded 35 consecutive games with at least one reception, tied for the second-longest active streak among all FBS players.

3 — QB Jayden de Laura, along with RBs Michael Wiley and Jonah Coleman, all rushed for touchdowns on Saturday night against NDSU. Three rushing scores are the most for the Wildcats since punching in three on Nov. 2019 against Oregon State.

5 — WR Jacob Cowing hauled in his fifth touchdown catch of the year. His five scores through the air are the most by a Wildcat since Jamarye Joiner had five in 2019. 

6 — The Wildcats have forced six turnovers through three games this year, matching their turnover total from 12 games last season.
 

VERSUS CAL: This is the 36th all-time meeting between Arizona and Cal dating back to 1978. The Golden Bears and Wildcats first kicked off on Oct. 14, 1978, in Tucson. The Wildcats have won six in a row against the Golden Bears, including last season's only win, a 10-3 victory at Arizona Stadium, to improve to 11-6 in Tucson. Arizona is 8-8-2 in Berkeley and the last time it traveled to the Bay Area, came away with a 45-44 double overtime win on Oct. 21, 2017. Arizona is 8-2 over the last 10 matchups against Cal. Last season, the Arizona Wildcats held Cal to 122 total yards of offense (28 rushing, 94 passing) on their way to a seven-point win. QB Will Plummer led the Wildcats with 129 yards passing and 73 yards rushing. Michael Wiley rushed for the only touchdown of the game, a 10-yard scamper with 2:17 left in the fourth quarter to cap an eight-play, 55-yard drive to secure a win. Arizona holds the longest winning streak of the series, six games, from Sept. 25, 2010, to present. Two of Head Coach Jedd Fisch's four wins have come against the Cal Golden Bears with a victory as an interim head coach at UCLA in 2017 and the 2021 win as head coach at Arizona.

ABOUT LAST WEEK: Jayden de Laura threw for 229 yards and a touchdown, ran for another score, and Arizona rallied to beat North Dakota State 31-28 on Saturday night. The Wildcats snapped North Dakota State's FBS win streak at six games, dating to Sept. 4, 2010. Arizona was trailing 28-24 midway through the fourth quarter but got a crucial stop on fourth-and-2 at its own 23 to flip momentum. The Wildcats then drove the field and took a 31-28 lead on de Laura's perfectly placed 22-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Cowing in the corner of the end zone. Arizona's defense did the rest, holding NDSU's previously prolific running game in check. De Laura finished 20-of-29 passing. North Dakota State's Hunter Luepke scored three touchdowns — two on the ground and one through the air. He ran for 115 yards, leading the Bison's 283-yard rushing attack. NDSU came into Saturday's game with six straight wins over FBS programs, knocking off Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State, Kansas State, Iowa State and No. 11 Iowa. Luepke looked like he was going to be the hero on Saturday, plowing through the line of scrimmage for a 38-yard touchdown to give the Bison a 28-24 lead late in the third quarter. The 236-pound fullback was so excited during the celebration that he even bowled over teammate Jake Lippe during the celebration before helping him up. But Arizona had one more rally left in the back-and-forth contest. The Wildcats led 17-14 on Tyler Loop's 36-yard field goal at the halftime buzzer. Arizona jumped ahead 7-0 in the first quarter on Michael Wiley's 6-yard touchdown run. North Dakota State tied it at 7-all later in the first when Cam Miller found Luepke all alone for a 31-yard touchdown pass. The Bison looked like they were about to grab the lead in the second quarter, but Hunter Echols strip-sacked Miller at the Arizona 17 and the Wildcats were able to recover the fumble. It was one of many examples of an opportunistic Arizona defense that gave up 407 yards but came up big at crucial moments. The 392 yards of total offense generated by the Arizona offense are the most surrendered by the NDSU defense since South Dakota went for 454 in April 2021, a span of 20 games.

ECHOLS EARNS WEEKLY HONORS: University of Arizona defensive end Hunter Echols earns Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week in the Pac-12 as announced by the conference office today. Echols shares the award with Oregon's Brandon Dorlus. It's the second time this season that an Arizona defensive lineman has won this award after Jalen Harris took home the honor following a Week-1 win over San Diego State. It marks the first player of the week award for Echols. He is the third Wildcat to win this award since it began prior to the 2019 season (Kyon Barrs, Jalen Harris, Hunter Echols). The Arizona Wildcats upended the North Dakota Bison 31-28 on Saturday and a pivotal moment in the victory was Echols forced fumble on a sack of Bison QB Cam Miller. NDSU was driving into Arizona territory at the 17-yard line in the second quarter, but that drive came to a halt when Echols beat his blocker to the quarterback on 2nd and 5 and forced a fumble for the first time in his career to turn the Bison away. Arizona followed the turnover with a 10-play 83-yard drive and grabbed a 14-7 lead on a seven-yard TD run by quarterback Jayden de Laura. Echols finished with eight tackles including two tackles for a loss of 13 yards, and one sack, alongside his pivotal forced fumble that was recovered by linebacker Jerry Roberts. He earned a game ball after the victory. The two tackles for loss marked a single-game career high. The transfer from USC has produced 19.0 tackles (10 solo, 9 assists) including 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks so far this season. Echols has made 69 total tackles including 8.5 tackles for loss through 41 games played in his collegiate career.

TURNOVER SWORD: Arizona's defense has matched its 2021 turnover total with a fumble forced by defensive lineman Hunter Echols which was recovered by linebacker Jerry Roberts last weekend. The Wildcats have forced six turnovers through three games, which matches the turnovers forced during the entirety of the 2021 season. The Arizona defense has forced a turnover in all three games this season with four fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

LIMITED LAUNDRY: Arizona committed only one penalty for 15 yards against North Dakota State. The last time the Wildcats were flagged only once in a game was Oct. 5, 2019, against Colorado. In the game against NDSU, Arizona did not turn over the ball along with only one penalty. The last time the Wildcats had a turnover-free, one-penalty game was a 48-14 win over Washington on Oct. 4, 2008, at Arizona Stadium, a span of 167 games.

BEND BUT DON'T BREAK: The Arizona defense allowed 283 yards rushing against North Dakota State in the 31-28 win last week. Dating to 1980, it marked the fourth-most rushing yards allowed in a victory. The Wildcats secured victories in the New Mexico Bowl (W, 49-48) after allowing 403 yards rushing to Nevada, marking the most rushing yards allowed in a win in program history. Arizona allowed 320 yards in a 45-37 win over New Mexico on Dec. 19, 2015, in the New Mexico Bowl, marking the second-most rushing yards allowed in a victory. Arizona surrendered 300 yards in a 45-42 win over Colorado on Oct. 7, 2017, marking the most rushing yards allowed in a regular season win since 1980. The Wildcats limited North Dakota State to 3-of-7 on third down conversions and held the Bison to 0-of-2 on fourth down.

DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS: Linebacker Jerry Roberts reached double-digit tackles (10) against Mississippi State to achieve the feat in a second consecutive game. Roberts previously had one double digit tackle game in his career at Arizona (Utah 2021). Roberts is third in the Pac-12 with 10.3 tackles per game and is third in overall tackles (31.0). Senior defensive lineman Hunter Echols forced a fumble for the first time in his career and is approaching his career-high in tackles (20) with 19 tackles so far this season.

JUST GETTING STARTED: Sophomore quarterback Jayden de Laura led a comeback 31-28 win after trailing by four entering the fourth quarter, 28-24, against North Dakota State. De Laura connected with Cowing on a 22-yard touchdown pass with 4:53 left in the fourth quarter to earn the win. De Laura threw for 229 yards and one touchdown and rushed for career-highs with 10 carries and 58 yards and a rushing touchdown against the Bison to help the Wildcats improve to 2-1.  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 at San Diego State. He improved to 6-0 in his collegiate career when throwing three-plus touchdowns. De Laura's four touchdown passes are 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 the 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.

AERIAL THREAT: Through three games, junior wide receiver Jacob Cowing has pulled in five touchdown catches which is tied for second nationally. He has surpassed last year's top scoring threat through the air, running back Michael Wiley, who tallied four receiving TDs in 11 games played. Cowing caught a touchdown with 4:53 remaining in the fourth quarter to put the Wildcats in front 31-28, marking his third straight game with a reception (5 rec, 55 yards) and the first Wildcat player with touchdown catches in three straight games since Michael Wiley caught a touchdown in each of the final three games of the 2021 season. Cowing 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.

MR. CONSISTENCY: Transfer wide receiver Jacob Cowing has made an immediate impact for the Wildcats this season, leading the team in receptions in each of the first two weeks while hauling in five touchdown catches. With last weekend's performance and dating back through his time at UTEP, Cowing has now recorded at least one reception in 35 consecutive games, tied for the second-longest active streak among all FBS players. During that 35-game stretch, which includes every college game he has logged time in, Cowing has posted multiple catches 30 times and 5+ receptions 20 times.

TAKEN FOR A LOOP: Kicker Tyler Loop made one of two attempts against North Dakota State, improving to 15-of-15 on his career prior to missing a 43-yard field goal attempt with 12:56 left the fourth quarter. Loop is 15-of-16 on field goals and 23-of-23 on extra points. Loop was one of four Pac-12 kickers to begin their collegiate career perfect in kicking at least 15 field goals including Arizona State's Thomas Weber, 17 straight from Sept. 1 to Nov. 3, 2007, Utah's Matt Gray, who made 14 straight from Aug. 31 to Sept. 22, 2017, and Nathan Villegas (Oregon), who made 14 straight to begin his collegiate career from Sept. 5 to Nov. 7, 1998.

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