The Arizona Wildcats’ victory over Oklahoma State wasn’t just another college football upset.
For Wildcat fans it was turning the tables on a bully, and another big reason to believe Rich Rodriguez can be the man who brings peace to the UA’s troubled football neighborhood.
Those who haven’t been emotionally invested in this program the last few years won’t understand the magnitude of this win. To the casual observer it was an unranked team playing well at home and beating a middle-ranked team with a rookie quarterback. Not earth-shattering in and of itself. If the Wildcats and Cowboys played again next week Arizona would be the ranked team trying to avoid an upset.
What made this much bigger than simply beating the No. 18 team in the country was how lopsided the previous two Cat/Poke games were. Last week the UA players said this one was personal, and for good reason.
It was personal to those who made the long trip to the Alamo Bowl in 2010, only to be swallowed up by a sea of orange. It was the second round of thrashing nine months later, proving that the UA swoon that ended ’10 was alive and well in ’11.
It was the arm-waving thing OK State fans do after every score, a gesture their elite team allowed them to do over and over and over again the past two seasons. It was uncomfortable stares from this guy.
I have no ill will toward any Cowboy fans. I’ll be rooting for Oklahoma State the rest of the year. It would be nice if OSU didn’t make like 2010 Iowa and sputter after losing to Arizona so this win maintains its national significance as the season goes on.
But even if this year’s Cowboys turn out to be mortal they sure didn’t look it on the first two possessions at Arizona Stadium. Seven minutes and 10 seconds into the game OSU’s run of dominance over the boys from Tucson had extended to an 87-24 scoring margin over 8.5 quarters of football.
Wes Lunt looked like Brandon Weeden‘s son (age-wise it might be possible) and it looked like it was going to be another long night of arm-waving. It looked like the bully had gotten the lunch money again, this time in the scrawny kid’s own backyard.
Winning this game makes 2011 seem worlds away. Just two games in, RichRod has provided hope that old scores will be settled. Maybe not this year, but you can envision a time when the books will start to be balanced against Pac-12 bullies like Oregon (15-3 vs. Arizona since 1993) and USC (9-1 against the UA since 2000).
When one giant falls you stand a little taller as you face the next one.
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Saturday was a night of celebration for the fans…but not too much celebration.
There was surprise when the official attendance was announced as only 45,602. We discussed crowd challenges last week so I won’t focus on the 6,000 who weren’t there. The 45,000 who did attend this week’s game were very loud, very involved and very rewarded at the contest’s end.
They were also, however, very confined to the seating area.
I cannot tell a lie: I was jealous of Oregon State fans rushing the field after their big upset win over Wisconsin. Look, I understand the need for safety. I realize the importance of preventing fans from emptying the stands before the end of a game that wasn’t even won. But there has to be a happy medium somewhere.
Maybe it could be like retiring jerseys where there are strict requirements that have to be met. Beating a 5-6 ASU team? A small army of cops rings the field. Losing the game? Army and a couple tanks. Beat a top-10 team? The officers take a strategically-timed break and the gates to the ZonaZoo are left open.
Trouncing your tormentor, the reigning champion of a major conference? The Beavers had the right idea.
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The bulk of the accolades will go to Ka’Deem Carey, Jonathan McKnight, Matt Scott, Jared Tevis and Jake Fischer but I don’t want to be one of those people who only mention the kicker when he misses. John Bonano brushed off the Week 1 mishaps and made 92 yards worth of field goals and all six extra point tries without incident. They weren’t game-winners but any one of them would’ve killed momentum.
The Wildcat kicker beat up his own bully Saturday night.
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