Early 2023 college bowl game projection: Wildcats reach Sun Bowl

May 19, 2023, 5:38 PM | Updated: 5:40 pm

Jacob Cowing...

Arizona wide receiver Jacob Cowing (2) fends off Colorado safety Tyrin Taylor (5) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Thanks to the active-as-ever transfer portal, college football rosters have churned this offseason. With spring ball over with and that relatively calmed down — we are not including the Colorado Buffaloes — it’s on to projecting the regular season.

For the Arizona Wildcats, 2023 presents a real opportunity to make their first bowl game since 2017.

Action Network’s Brett McMurphy sees Arizona and head coach Jedd Fisch making the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, where he predicts the Wildcats will face the Duke Blue Devils in El Paso, Texas. The game features an ACC squad against the fifth team in the Pac-12.

It’s an optimistic look at Arizona. The over-under for Arizona football’s 2023 win total at FanDuel Sportsbook sits at 4.5 wins, while Duke is at 6.5.

It’ll be Fisch’s third season on the job, where he flipped a 1-11 squad his first season into a 5-7 team last year.

The Wildcats return starting quarterback Jayden de Laura, who posted an erratic first year in the desert after two years with Washington State.

De Laura completed 63% of his passes for 3,685 yards, 25 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The offense also returns running back Michael Wiley, who posted 771 rushing yards and 349 receiving yards.

Arizona lost leading receiver by yards Dorian Singer (1,105 yards) — he transferred to USC — but has plenty of options with 1,000-yard man Jacob Cowing back after he led the team with 85 catches. Soon-to-be sophomore Tetairoa McMillan (702 yards) is back, as is tight end Tanner McLachlan (456 yards).

The defense will need to make a jump to increase the win total.

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