The top-10 gauntlet is over.
Now Arizona Wildcats fans should hope the entire season goes like the Oregon game.
Put down your pitchforks and torches, Wildcat Universe. Let me explain.
The last three games have been bad. Horrible. The Oregon game was the worst of them all. 35-3 in the 2nd quarter was the lowest of lows. The Ducks did what they wanted – run, run, run – and Arizona was powerless to stop it.
But even though the stadium emptied the Wildcats kept playing. They tried a trick play. They converted an onside kick. From the standpoint of the individual game you ask: Why wait until you’re down 25 to pull out the surprises? But from the standpoint of the season you say: Better late than never.
Much, much better late than never.
That’s where we are with the 2011 campaign. A third of the season is in the books. It has been an ugly third for Arizona, just like the first third of the Oregon game. But starting with the end of the 2nd quarter the Cats scored 21 straight points.
They kept fighting during the game. Can they keep fighting for their season?
The temptation will be to wave the white flag. Mike Stoops used the word “humiliating” after the game. This week we’ll find out if this team – from the top down – still believes in themselves and each other.
USC isn’t in the top 10. The Trojans aren’t even in the top 25 anymore. Against Utah they needed a blocked field goal to avoid overtime. They just lost by three touchdowns to ASU. When the Wildcats travel to L.A. this weekend they’ll be facing a true peer for the first time since last year.
It’s not a must-win. The season doesn’t end with a loss. That’s next week.
It is, however, a must-improve. The offensive line and defensive front aren’t suddenly going to become significantly better, but the missed tackles and dropped passes have to stop. USC is a step down from Oklastanegon, but Arizona will still have to play well to stay in the game on the road.
Go ahead and keep the trick plays handy. Go for two. Anything to keep that fighting spirit alive.
Will Arizona’s 2011 season end like the Oregon game, with the deficit being too great and the Cats ultimately coming up short? That chapter has yet to be written.
But the time for the comeback is right now.
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It has been a month to forget for Arizona Football. For the eighth time in school history the Wildcats played three ranked teams in the same month. They went winless against a ranked trio for the fourth time (2002, 2003, 2005).
The only other time the UA faced a ranked opponent in three consecutive weeks was October 11, 18 and 25 of 1997. The Cats got one win out of that stretch but it was a against an overrated Stanford team that finished 5-6.
No, Arizona has never before had a schedule segment as difficult as No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 5 Stanford and No. 10 Oregon. The only way to top it would be to play the 2006 LSU game three times in a row.
Speaking of quarterbacks risking bodily harm, I hope Nick Foles has taken out every possible injury insurance policy. The kid took every snap of the Oregon game, threw the ball 57 times and never gave up on a single play. Oregon coach Chip Kelly said he was in awe of Foles. I’m in awe he kept getting up. Foles never shies away from a hit even though his line gives up more sacks than a grocery store.
Breaking tackles, throwing with defensive linemen draped all over him, left-handed passes, Foles has shown he has zero quit in him and will do whatever it takes to win.
We’re now going to find out what percentage of the team can say the same.
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