Many a DFS parlays were won last season thanks to Tetairoa McMillan. If you weren’t familiar with the Arizona wideout until later on, you were missing out. But it was perfectly reasonable not to know about McMillan. The general public was privy to Malik Nabers and Marvin Harrison Jr. Rome Odunze and Luther Burden III became household names. The receiver landscape was so saturated with outstanding talent last fall that it was easy to overlook a sophomore early in the season playing on a team that hadn’t won much of anything in recent years.

On Sept. 23 against Stanford, Noah Fifita took over as the Wildcats’ quarterback when starter Jayden de Laura was knocked out of the game with an injury. Fifita started his first career game the following weekend when then-No. 7 Washington visited Tucson. The UA lost by 7 points in a game that felt closer. A week later, Fifita led the Wildcats on the road and took then-No. 9 USC to triple-overtime in a 43-41 loss.


During those 2 games, Fifita threw for 535 yards and 8 touchdowns against just 2 picks while completing 70% of his passes. From then on, the job was Fifita’s. And T-Mac went wild catching passes from his old high school teammate. He had 138 yards against USC. He had 7 catches a week later against Washington State, then 8 catches and a touchdown the following week.

He had 81 yards and a score against UCLA. Then 107 yards and a score against Colorado. Then 116 yards and a score against Utah. Then 266 yards and a score in the annual in-state rivalry clash with Arizona State. In the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma, McMillan had 160 yards on 10 catches. He finished the season with 4 consecutive 100-yard games and 4 consecutive 8-reception games.

When Jedd Fisch decided to leave Tucson to take the open job at Washington earlier this offseason, there was immediate speculation that McMillan and Fifita would hit the portal and a massive bidding war would commence. The 6-foot-5 McMillan is arguably the top returning receiver in the sport and a likely first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. The dagger-delivering Fifita is a darkhorse Heisman Trophy contender.

But unlike their former coach, neither McMillan nor Fifita could be swayed by a payday somewhere else. They stayed at Arizona.

“It was never about money for me,” Fifita said earlier this offseason. “If it was about money, we would’ve been gone a long time ago because we were getting calls and opportunities midseason.”

Added McMillan: “I think we started something good over here. My mind never changed about what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. We decided to stay loyal because that’s just the way we grew up. Loyalty means everything, family is everything, and without them you can’t find happiness.”

Their decision impacts the Big 12 title race in 2024. It also impacts the College Football Playoff. From a betting perspective, the return of Fifita and McMillan potentially makes Arizona one of the most valuable teams in all of college football next season.

Fifita’s insertion into the starting lineup ignited something in the Wildcats. They were playing good football with de Laura at the controls, but his gunslinger mentality dug a huge hole in an early-season road loss to Mississippi State and was just a little too volatile for most. Fifita was more surgical and far less turnover-prone.

In 19 career appearances for Arizona, de Laura (who has since transferred) threw 18 interceptions. He had an interception rate of 3.2%. Fifita has 6 career picks in 15 career appearances — at a rate of just 1.7%.

For 5 straight weeks after he took over the starting role, he passed for at least 225 yards. He had at least 300 yards 5 times, including a 527-yard outing against Arizona State in the regular-season finale. He also had multiple touchdown passes in 6 consecutive games to close out the season.

Somewhat surprisingly, players like Jackson Arnold, DJ Uiagalelei, and Riley Leonard have better Heisman odds than Fifita does. At FanDuel, Fifita is currently priced at +3100 to win the award (implied 3.1% chance). Fifita ended last season sixth nationally in Total QBR — ahead of Georgia’s Carson Beck, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., and USC’s Caleb Williams.

New coach Brent Brennan might lean on Fifita even more in 2024.

The offseason wasn’t kind to the running back room. Jonah Coleman (2023’s leading rusher) followed Fisch to Washington, a blue-chip 2024 signee did the same, and Oregon State transfer Damien Martinez picked Miami over the ‘Cats. The group left behind is unproven.

But the offensive line could be one of the best in the country. Six of the 7 linemen who saw at least 200 snaps last fall return. That includes potential first-round pick Jonah Savaiinaea and second-team All-Pac-12 guard Wendell Moe. The transfer haul has also brought 4 more offensive linemen into the room.

The ingredients for an elite offense that burns secondaries are all here for Brennan in his first year.

Arizona has a deep and talented crop of pass-catchers — a group that could get even better if former ASU wideout Elijhah Badger joins the program. He recently visited and is thought to be considering Arizona among several other schools. Badger would be a luxury for the Arizona receiver group, though not exactly a necessary addition.

The Fifita-to-McMillan connection is an important one for the Wildcats’ title hopes. It’s also a lucrative one for DFS players.

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McMillan had a target share of 29.4% last year. In games where Fifita started, that percentage jumped to 32.0%. Jacob Cowing was the next-most-targeted receiver with Fifita at quarterback by a wide margin, and Arizona needs to replace him this offseason. While McMillan is going to absorb all 121 of Cowing’s targets — Arizona needs a slot guy to step up and take pressure off its outside star — it’s fair to expect an even larger workload in 2024.

During his senior season at Servite, McMillan had 88 receptions and 18 touchdowns catching passes from Fifita. A touchdown boom is where we might really see McMillan take off in 2024. He’s a jump-ball-winning receiver with a huge catch radius and wonderful ball skills. Cowing had 13 touchdowns to McMillan’s 10 last fall; tailback Michael Wiley (also gone) had 5 receiving scores. In or around the red zone, McMillan could feast.

Teams are going to struggle to cover a stronger, more seasoned McMillan. There are some questions to be answered in fall camp, but the Wildcats are a worthy contender for the Big 12 crown because it’s just hard to know if teams will be able to consistently shut down the 2 stars.

Utah, Kansas State, and Kansas all have better odds to win the Big 12 than Arizona (+850 via DraftKings). Because the Wildcats have to go to Salt Lake City on Sept. 28, Utah is probably the safer pick to finish the regular season with the league’s top record, but a rematch in the conference title game is certainly possible.


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More than anything, you want consistency. And that’s exactly what Arizona was a year ago. The Wildcats went 11-2 against the spread. (Brennan’s San Jose State team went 9-4 against the spread.) With Fifita and McMillan back to win something of substance, expect this Arizona team to have a point to prove when the season kicks off.