Arizona Wildcats preparing for first bowl game under Jedd Fisch

Nov 28, 2023, 9:23 AM

Arizona Wildcats head football coach Jedd Fisch...

Head coach Jedd Fisch of the Arizona Wildcats is dunked with powerade from Jacob Manu #5 during the final moments of the NCAAF game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Mountain America Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Sun Devils 59-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

After ending the season on a six-game winning streak, the Arizona Wildcats are heading to a bowl game for the first time under Jedd Fisch.

The third-year head coach led the Wildcats to a 9-3 record overall and a third-place finish in the Pac-12 with a 7-2 conference record, the most conference victories in school history.

If Arizona wins its bowl game, it would be the first time since 2014 and only the fourth time in school history the program has reached 10 wins.

“We were 2-1 to end (last) year and then 9-3 so 11 of our last 15,” Fisch said Monday. “I would say we found a way to continue to improve each week. We improved in the offseason, we improved in the winter, we improved in the spring. We kept adding talent, we kept developing talent, we kept getting bigger, stronger, faster. And then from all those areas you wound up finding a spot where you’ve got a lot of guys that can contribute.”

The Wildcats moved up to No. 14 in the AP rankings and No. 15 in the Coaches Poll after their Territorial Cup victory. With the winner Friday’s conference championship between Oregon and Washington widely expected to go to the College Football Playoff and the loser expected to play in the Fiesta Bowl, the Wildcats are projected to play in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28 in San Antonio.

“(The Fiesta Bowl and Alamo Bowl) are big time games and you got a chance to be in a special game,” Fisch said. “And if that’s the case, then I would think most guys want to be in it.”

Fisch said he sees one or two players sitting out the bowl game due to NFL circumstances or injury but expects to have most players available.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase your skill one more time. I think you have to take a little cost benefit analysis. I think some people take a step back on that. But we’ve talked to a couple of guys about it, most guys I’m expecting to play and I think it’s everybody’s choice, but this is a big time game we’re going to.”

Fisch also emphasized wanting to give his young players an opportunity to play in the bowl game.

I think a lot of these guys will never play football after the bowl game. But you do it for the kids. This isn’t a professional school. This is college football. And these guys a lot of times won’t have another opportunity to live their dream. And they work every single day to be able to have one chance to do it. So it’s really important to me that we have the ability to do it, based on the score, based on the circumstances or based on the game.”

Fisch said the first four or five practices will be heavily focused on the young players on their roster and the last two weeks prior to the bowl game will be like a two-week Super Bowl prep.

“Everything will be all game-plan based. So, we will have about four to five practices that will all be about fundamentals and the young guys and getting the young guys better, improving and then we’ll have what ends up being eight practices, and 13 days of meetings and what not of all about the game.”

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