Lumberjacks Head South to Play No. 20 Wildcats

Sep 3, 2015; Tucson, AZ, USA; The Arizona Wildcats and the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners on the line of scrimmage during the second quarter at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The start of the 2015 season could not have been better for the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (2-0).

After escaping with a 34-28 victory in week one against Stephen F. Austin, the Lumberjacks pounded New Mexico Highlands 41-5 last weekend to stay perfect through the first two weeks.

For the No. 20 Arizona Wildcats, they have received exactly what the doctor ordered as far as their record is concerned. They are also 2-0 to start the season, but it hasn’t been pretty.

A close game in week one resulted in a Wildcats 42-32 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners, but Arizona lost All-American linebacker Scooby Wright after he tore the meniscus in his left knee during the game.

The following week, Arizona defeated the Nevada Wolf Pack 44-20 in Reno, but lost Wright’s replacement, Haden Gregory, who injured his knee and is expected to miss two-to-four weeks.

The injuries to Wright and Gregory leave redshirt freshman Tre Tyler the starter for Saturday night’s contest. Tyler began camp as the fourth man on the depth chart, but was moved up to third when Cody Ippolito tore his ACL on Aug. 29.

The defense has suffered as a result of the injuries, but coach Rich Rodriguez said his team improved from week one to week two.

But have the Wildcats improved enough to stay perfect? Or will the Lumberjacks continue their streak and hand Arizona its first loss of 2015?

We’ll have to see. Either way, someone is bound to lose.

According to the AP, the Lumberjacks are ranked 24th in the STATS FCS Top 25 and are the subdivision’s current leader in passing efficiency in freshman quarterback Case Cookus, who Heat Waved mentioned as one of the players to watch in the match up. 

Cookus has compiled 563 passing yards this season and has completed 71.4 percent of his passes without an interception and has thrown five touchdowns passes. He likes to team up with Emmanuel Butler, who has four touchdown receptions and is averaging 30 yards on nine catches.

The NAU offense has also averaged 482.5 total yards and 37.5 points in both of their wins.

It’s been a pretty impressive start for the Lumberjacks youngster. Compare his numbers to the Wildcats’ Anu Solomon, who has six touchdown passes and 493 passing yards, and it’s obvious both teams are strong on the offensive side.

Rodriguez called the Lumberjacks “a really good team.” He said NAU will definitely give their best effort against his guys.

On top of trying to prove to the college football world that they are a serious team, the Lumberjacks will also try to change history.

NAU hasn’t won a game in Tucson since 1932. Since then, they have gone 0-11 and are seeking their first win over an FBS school since 2012 when they beat UNLV 17-14.

Normally when we talk about a battle for the state of Arizona, it’s between the Wildcats and the Arizona State Sun Devils. While that match up will take place Nov. 21, this week the Lumberjacks will do their best to defeat the Wildcats at home, something the Sun Devils couldn’t do a year ago.