Top 50 teams of 2019: No. 45 Arizona

 

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Before the start of Illinois football's training camp on Aug. 2 in Champaign, beat writer Bob Asmussen is counting down the Top 50 teams heading into the 2019 college football season:

No. 45: Arizona

Coach: Kevin Sumlin

2018 record: 5-7

Projected 2019 record: 7-5

Circle the date: Nov. 16 at Oregon

Bowl trip: Cheez-It

Why No. 45: The first year in Tucson didn't go well for Sumlin. In the last two games, the Wildcats gave up 110 points in losses to Washington State and rival Arizona State. ... Spring rumors circulated about quarterback Khalil Tate leaving Arizona, with some speculating he would join Rod Smith at Illinois. He still is in Tucson and looks to bounce back from a disappointing season. He still threw 24 TD passes, but his running production dipped significantly. ... Eight starters are back on offense, including 1,400-yard running back J.J. Taylor. ... Three returning linebackers are the strength of the defense, with Colin Schooler the best of the bunch. ... The Wildcats open the season a week early with a game Aug. 24 at Hawaii. Consecutive road games in late October at Southern Cal and Stanford will be critical tests.

Last year's ranking: No. 35