2010 Alamo Bowl = 2012 Sun Bowl
Photo by Wildcat Universe

After losing to Washington on Saturday, Arizona could really use a win against USC.

But when the UA faces the Trojans on Oct. 10, the Wildcats may feel like they’re looking at their younger selves in the mirror.

As you may have noticed, I really like spelling out my fan expectations beforehand. It lets me take advantage of rational thoughts before they are trampled on by the result of a particular game.

After all the cheering and moaning and clapping and face-palming and moping after a soggy loss in Seattle I can look back and remember what I thought before the game.

I can recall: That’s right, the Cats were supposed to lose this game.

Granted, the debate among Wildcat Universe over the next week and a half will be if the UA passing game was worse than expected, but losing the Pac-12 opener at Washington doesn’t change anything about this season’s possibilities.

The next game, though, changes everything.

The USC game determines the Wildcats’ goals for the rest of the year. Win and you can still have a very strong season. The best-case scenario would still be contending for the Pac-12 South crown.

Lose in L.A. a week from Thursday, however, and the bar lowers quite a bit. You’re looking at a peer group of Utah and Washington State and duking it out for the bottom rungs on the Pac-12 bowl ladder.

Way too soon to give up on 2013. Arizona just needs to beat USC. The Trojans didn’t do the Cats any favors by firing Lane Kiffin though.

As soon as the news broke that Kiffin had been let go (Under the cloak of darkness! Banished from the team bus!) people immediately made the comparison to the timing of Mike Stoops‘ dismissal from the UA.

Both coaches were removed right after a road loss, right before a bye week, followed by a Thursday home game. And we all know how that Thursday game turned out for the team that just fired its coach.

First a dude took off his pants and ran onto the field, then there was a brawl and then, oh yeah, Stoops’ players won in a laugher.

So not only does Kiffin completely botch his week as Whoever’s Playing ASU, but then he provides his (ex-)team with an emotional edge for the Arizona game. Is this your extremely backwards attempt at revenge for last year’s loss in Tucson, Lane?

The Kiffin/Stoops similarities go deeper than a midyear firing. Behold:

  • Strong start in penultimate season (Stoops 7-1 to begin 2010, Kiffin 6-1 in 2012)
  • Unsettling road loss (Stoops at Stanford, Kiffin at Arizona)
  • Wheels completely detaching from vehicle (UA four straight losses to end regular season, USC finishes on 1-4 skid)
  • Ugly bowl game defeat (Stoops’ Forget the Alamo game against Oklahoma State, Kiffin’s Forget El (Forward) Paso against Georgia Tech)
  • No sign of wheels to start next season (Wildcats 0-4 in Pac-12 play, Trojans 0-2)
  • Hello, Interim Coach
  • Oh, and visors. Lots of visors
  • .
    All told, Stoops went from a 9-2 stretch bridging 2009 and 2010 to suddenly ending his tenure in Tucson by going 1-10. Kiffin looked like Pete Carroll, Jr. with a 17-3 run across parts of three seasons but he did not survive the subsequent 4-7 tumble.

    Talk across the nation will be about who is next to coach at mighty SC, but that is no concern of Arizona’s over the next 10 days. The UA needs a win to keep its season goals high.

    If the Cats want a shot at big things in 2013 they don’t need Ed Orgeron becoming the next Tim Kish.