ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) has Arizona ranked as the eighth-best team in the Pac-12 entering the 2023 season.

The predictive model has the UA ranked No. 59 nationally. It gives Jedd Fisch’s group a 51.3% chance to reach bowl eligibility, though it has the Wildcats’ record pegged at 6-6.

Arizona returns offensive stars Jayden de Laura and Jacob Cowing to help power the pass game. Tailback Michael Wiley also returns behind a promising offensive line. After a season in which Arizona ranked 30th nationally in offensive success rate, the pieces are there for the program to continue rising on that side of the football.

Overall progress will be determined by how much growth is made on the defensive side of the ball.

Only one starter from last year’s season opener returns on defense. The Wildcats struggled to slow anyone and everyone last fall, ranking 130th nationally in defensive success rate, and that led to wholesale personnel changes this offseason.

The Wildcats will be put to the test early in 2023, with a trip to Starkville to battle Mississippi State on the docket for Week 2. There’s a chance for Arizona, with a win over the Bulldogs, to build some serious momentum heading into the final weekend of September.

Here’s how FPI views the Wildcats’ schedule:

  • Sept. 2 vs. Northern Arizona — 95.3% chance of winning
  • Sept. 9 at Mississippi State — 25.9%
  • Sept. 16 vs. UTEP — 86.0%
  • Sept. 23 at Stanford — 52.1%
  • Sept. 30 vs. Washington — 33.2%
  • Oct. 7 at USC — 9.1%
  • Oct. 14 at Washington State — 43.9%
  • Oct. 28 vs. Oregon State — 33.5%
  • Nov. 4 vs. UCLA — 42.7%
  • Nov. 11 at Colorado — 63.7%
  • Nov. 18 vs. Utah — 23.4%
  • Nov. 25 at Arizona State — 48.1%