The Arizona Wildcats football team is not #1 in the country. The Arizona basketball team is not #6.
Stripping the emotion those are the facts after the weekend’s losses. Neither fact ruins your season as long as you regroup and accomplish the goal in front of you.
For the football team the time to regroup is quickly running out but the next goal is crystal clear:
A college football season can be divided into four sub-seasons: non-conference, conference, rivalry and bowl game.
The out-of-conference season was definitely a success for the 2010 Wildcats. You can’t do better than 3-0, and the record includes a win over a highly-ranked-at-the-time-and-they-did-beat-Michigan-State Iowa team.
The second sub-season is the Pac-10 schedule and that segment has to be put in the loss column. The UA will not be able to match last year’s conference win total. The Cats were just 2-2 at home, and there were no wins against the league’s upper division.
The third sub-season speaks for itself, in a very harsh tone.
They say you can throw the records out the window in rivalry games and both teams might be fine with that this year. Arizona is on a losing streak. ASU is officially going to miss a bowl for the third straight year. Neither team is riding a wave of momentum.
Sun Devil fans can point to their resounding win against UCLA last week but the Wildcats also have a win over the Bruins. In fact, if you compare the two teams’ common opponents you’ll notice very similar results.
The only difference between Arizona’s 4-4 Pac-10 record and ASU’s 3-5 is the Wildcats’ one-point win against Cal. Other than that both sides beat the same teams and lost to the same teams. If you want to play the margin-of-victory game here are the numbers:
The Sun Devils win with a combined score of 243-222 (+21) compared to the UA’s 201-194 (+7). You’ll notice the team that got to play at home performed better in each case except against USC. The Cats lost by three at home while the Devils lost by only one on the road.
What does this tell us? Anyone can win this thing. But, then again, didn’t we already know that?
It also tells us the Wildcats are very happy to be at home.
Ah, yes, the Arizona Stadium crowd. We The People of Wildcat Universe. There are no concerns about a letdown this week. The ZonaZoo will be packed. The atmosphere will contain a hint of hostility. The building will be loud.
As far as the Territorial Cup itself there’s a lot on the line. The UA is trying to win three straight for the first time in 15 years. Let no Wildcat fan forget that from the end of the Tomey era, through Mackovic and into the start of the Stoops era ASU took the Cup seven of nine years. There’s some definite ground to make up.
Mike Stoops will always be 1-2 vs. Dirk Koetter. He doesn’t want to fall to 2-2 against Dennis Erickson.
Neither the Cats nor Devils are happy with how their Pac-10 season has gone. The winner of Thursday’s one-game season will right a lot of wrongs.
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The result of Arizona’s hoops game with Kansas wasn’t a surprise and neither was the way it happened. The Wildcats put up a good fight but they didn’t have enough interior strength (we all knew that) and there wasn’t enough scoring outside of Derrick Williams (we all knew that too).
The good news is the Cats weren’t overwhelmed by the Jayhawks’ talent. As a result there is increased hope for being able to win one of the other two key non-conference RPI games.
The next step on the quest toward returning to March Madness is continuing to beat inferior opponents. If you can’t get a lot of high-profile wins you have to avoid bad losses.
That means cook Rice on Wednesday (the first true road game of the year) then beat Oklahoma and Cal State Fullerton at home. Doing so would set up Resume Enhancement Opportunity II in the person of Jimmer Fredette and his undefeated BYU Cougars on Dec. 11.
Seize the (next) day.