Unleash the Ant!
Photo by Deirdre Hamill/The Arizona Republic

The Arizona Wildcats ended their seven-day run as an undefeated top-10 team. Who replaces them as Oregon’s top challenger? And what did ASU’s win at Washington do for their bowl chances?

Here’s how the Pac-10 contenders stack up in this week’s Survivor Rankings:

1. Oregon
2. Oregon State
3. Cal
5. Washington
6. Stanford
X. Arizona State
X. Washington State

I thought about eliminating Washington for losing at home to ASU but the Huskies will have plenty of opportunities to eliminate themselves with OSU, Arizona, Stanford and Oregon in succession.

Cal gets slotted above the Wildcats for finally putting it together against UCLA, and for getting both Stanford and Oregon at home late in the year.

It’s no surprise that the #2 ranking goes to the only team besides Oregon without a conference loss. The Beavers have the Cardinal and Ducks as their final two games so it’s conceivable OSU could push its winning streak to seven games. That is, of course, if they can overcome the loss of their best receiver and kick returner.

I agree with Mike Riley and Adam Hall that the play that injured James Rodgers wasn’t dirty. It was a bad play by an inexperienced player that summed up the night for the UA secondary: out of position and two steps too slow. The result is very unfortunate and the Beavers will have a lot to overcome if they want to make a run at the conference championship for the third straight season.

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With half of the Pac-10 teams halfway through their seasons it’s time to start the football version of bubble watch. Which schools have the best shot at the league’s six bowl bids?

(Team record in parentheses.)

Oregon (6-0)

Stanford (5-1)
Arizona (4-1)

OSU (3-2)
Cal (3-2)
UCLA (3-3)

ASU (2-3*)
Washington (2-3)

(*ASU’s second FCS win isn’t included.)

Considering the sixth bowl team has to come from among UCLA, ASU and Washington it’s very possible the Pac-10 only ends up with five bowl-eligible teams. If USC wins some games and there are no huge upsets you could easily see UCLA and Washington ending up with no more than five wins and ASU really wishing they hadn’t played two FCS teams.

If Oregon gets into the BCS championship game there’s no way the Pac-10 fills its bowl slots. Blame Reggie Bush’s fat wallet.

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Sadly, it’s time to update this already:

Arizona’s history in the AP Top 10

Year Date In Rank Peak Date Out # of Weeks Final Record Final Rank
1974 Oct 14 9 9 Oct 21 1 9-2
1983 Sep 12 7 3 Oct 17 5 7-3-1
1986 Sep 23 10 10 Oct 7 2 9-3 11
1992 Nov 10 9 9 Nov 17 1 6-5-1
1993 A Oct 19 7 7 Nov 2 2
1993 B Jan 3 10 10 1 10-2 10
1994 Aug 21 7 6 Oct 11 7 8-4 20
1998 A Oct 5 10 10 Oct 12 1
1998 B Nov 9 9 4 7 12-1 4
1999 Aug 15 4 4 Aug 30 1 6-6
2010 Oct 3 9 9 Oct 10 1 ? ?

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The biggest upset in the Cats’ game against OSU had nothing to do with the point spread. In a shocking turn of events the blue jerseys saw their nine-game winning streak snapped. The last time Arizona lost wearing blue shirts? 2006 against…Oregon State.

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Consistency is what separates good teams from great ones. If the Cats could combine the special teams from the Iowa game, the defense from the Cal game and the (passing) offense from the Oregon State game the result would be a beat-down so severe even Nic Wise‘s dad would call it excessive.

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In the first four games Nic Grigsby had been the primary ball carrier and Keola Antolin had been relegated to catching swing passes. Based on the results against the Beavers maybe the roles should be reversed.

Antolin’s downhill running style and instant acceleration could be what’s needed to squeeze through the small (and rapidly closing) holes produced by the UA O-line. Grigsby proved that his lateral quickness and cut-back-ability are lethal against linebackers and DBs on the perimeter.

Arizona needs to continue mixing in runs between the tackles and Antolin may be the answer to making the most of them.

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Watching the replay confirmed what we saw with our naked eyes: OSU quarterback Ryan Katz was incredible. He made every single throw in the book and some from the CliffsNotes. Rolling right, rolling left, short, deep, stepping up in the pocket, getting drilled in the back. The ball came out clean every time and hit his target in the numbers. If he’s going to play like that the Beavers could win with Fred Rogers at receiver.

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I realize if it comes down to trying to pull off an 80-yard multi-lateral play you have no business winning the game, but if you find yourself in that situation you should at least run the play right.

It’s simple: Don’t ever get tackled with the ball. Make the defense intercept a lateral or fall on a fumble. When Travis Cobb got tackled to end the game he actually had Juron Criner available to his right to keep the play alive.

The other rule? If the band runs on the field, barrel into the trombone player.