USC at Arizona

Arizona stood up to USC. Can Wildcat fans now stand tall?
Photo by Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

Hello, my name is Scott and I’m an Arizona Football fan.

I knew when Ka’Deem Carey’s first-quarter touchdown run was called back the Wildcats would settle for a field goal. I knew when John Bonano’s second-quarter field goal was called back the retry would be missed. I knew Arizona wouldn’t be able to run out the clock with the lead. And I was right.

I also knew USC would run away with it after taking a 15-point lead. I knew the UA would not build a two-score lead in the fourth quarter. I knew the Cats would find a way to finish off another agonizing defeat. But I was very wrong.

The rehabilitation of wounded Wildcat fans has begun under the watchful eye of Dr. Richard A. Rodriguez.

You can’t blame long-time followers of UA football for expecting the worst. You can understand the collective dread. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs but with missed extra points.

Fumbling while running out the clock. Losing to a 1-8 team at home. Losing on an interception that hit the ground. Losing by throwing two passes on the same play. And that was just under the previous coach.

You want gut-wrenching defeats with history on the line? How about blowing a 20-point lead against Cal in 1993? Or falling 10-9 to Oregon a year later. Do you prefer epic collapses? There’s always the Snafu of ’72.

It takes a lot of work to go 76 years without an outright conference championship. To put it simply: Arizona Football has historically found a way to lose and Wildcat gridiron fans expect it to happen.

Are things now changing? Good stuff is happening in spite of the doubt. Records are falling and another long-time bully just left Tucson with a black eye. Arizona won consecutive games against the two best returning quarterbacks in the Pac-12 because it turns out the best returning QB plays for Arizona.

Is it finally safe to get optimistic?

Two weeks ago there was legitimate fear that RichRod would start 0-6 in conference play. Now the Wildcats are one more good weekend away from becoming the favorite to win the Pac-12 South.

The UCLA game is a crossroads and it’s not the kind we’re used to. Usually the sign says If the Cats lose this game the season is toast. Now it’s If the Cats win this a big fat opportunity smacks them in the face.

Lose and the goal returns to going to a bowl game and posting a winning record, which would still be a fine debut season for RichRod. But…if they win in L.A.? You won’t be able to hide from the possibilities anymore.

And, oh, what possibilities.

Consider this: Arizona wins out. USC, Stanford and Oregon State lose to Oregon. Arizona is competitive in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Arizona, currently No. 22 in the BCS standings, moves into the top 14 (Baylor and Oklahoma both finished in the top 14 with only nine wins last year). Oregon plays for the national championship. Arizona is selected to play in…I still can’t type it…the Nose Hole.

What on that list looks impossible after what we witnessed the last two weeks? Are we past counting out Rich Rodriguez and this group of Wildcats? Can we peek around the corner without the fear of getting hit by a bus?

As RichRod said after the USC win, “We’ve got a long way to go. But the process has started.”

The doctor is in.

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Scott Terrell is an Arizona season-ticket holder and he needs help. Support groups are forming on Twitter and Facebook.