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Arizona Wildcats to be a Pac-12 South surprise?

Back in late July, the Arizona Wildcats were picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 South in the preseason media poll.

The finish was not all that surprising, as they were listed behind UCLA, USC and Arizona State, while ahead of Utah and Colorado.

However, ESPN’s Ivan Maisel, in a piece listing bold predictions for the upcoming season, says one is that Arizona will be a surprise contender in the division.

If you think Rich Rodriguez lost his touch at Michigan, you haven’t been paying attention to what the Wildcats have done the past two seasons. Rodriguez went 8-5 both years playing with a team not recruited for his spread system. He’s in year three now, and as long as redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon takes care of the ball, Arizona will put up points. The Wildcats skip Stanford and Oregon State and get two weeks off in the first eight weeks of the season, which should keep them healthy for the stretch run. This is a good dark horse.

The schedule doesn’t set up too badly for Arizona, true, and there’s little doubt Rodriguez has the program heading in the right direction.

And with arguably the best WR depth in the conference and a defense that showed marked improvement last season, there’s plenty of reason for optimism in the Old Pueblo.

Yet, Arizona is also going to be starting its fourth different quarterback in four seasons, with the untested Solomon getting the early nod, while also looking to replace school record holder Ka’Deem Carey at running back.

What it will all add up to is anyone’s guess, though it’s possible Maisel will be proven right. Or, maybe, his 10th bold prediction will end up being the most accurate:

My last bold prediction — most of the above will be wrong.