The Arizona Wildcats flipped the script after the USC loss. Now the Cats look to avoid recreating Utah’s role.
A week ago Saturday, late in the Los Angeles night, the Arizona offense had caught fire to the tune of three touchdowns in four possessions to cut USC’s lead to seven. The Wildcats needed one more stop with four minutes to play.
The Trojans ran the ball seven straight times, picked up three first downs and the game was over.
The running shoe was on the other foot this past weekend at Arizona Stadium. This time it was the Wildcats with the ball, the lead and just 3:49 left on the fourth-quarter clock. Everyone from Nogales to North Ogden knew Ka’Deem Carey was getting the ball.
The first Carey rush resulted in a Utah facemask penalty and a first down. Two more Ka’Deem carries produced another first down. After two additional running plays it was third-and-five and the Utes had burned their final timeout. The Cats were five yards away from victory.
Carey’s school-record 40th rushing attempt got the five yards plus the remaining 39 on the field and the game was out of reach.
When it comes to grinding out the clock ‘tis far better to be unstoppable than to be unable to stop.
These last two games have displayed an intriguing aspect of Rich Rodriguez’s offense. The tempo allows you to come from behind in a hurry (for the ultimate example see Mexico Bowl, New) and the ground-based attack gives you the power to close out games.
It was a big win for right now and another glimpse at what Wildcat Universe hopes to see when RichRod’s done building this thing.
The trick now is to avoid the fan temptation to think your team will play just like this for the rest of the year. If this was an ugly loss we think our season is about to go down in flames. If this was a milestone victory we believe our guys are about to go on a run. Utah fans experienced some of the latter after their stunning win over Stanford.
Now it’s Arizona’s turn to try and avoid a letdown. The Wildcats are the ones coming off a solid home win (Arizona > Utah > Stanford, right?) and heading on the road to play a perceived inferior opponent. Colorado is the team that needs a win. If the Buffaloes are going to find three Pac-12 wins to get bowl eligible, one of them has to be on Saturday.
CU also has the motivation of knowing its only conference home win since joining the Pac-12 came against Arizona two years ago.
What would help the UA’s cause is the Cats realizing how much they need this game too. The scenario we spelled out last week still very much applies. UCLA is in the top 12, ASU is averaging 49 points a game in Pac-12 play and Oregon is averaging a touchdown more than that. It would be a really bad idea for Arizona to leave wins on the table against Colorado, Cal and Washington State.
The Wildcats aren’t going to play like they did against Utah every game from here on out. Ka’Deem Carey, as great as he is, isn’t going to rush for 200 yards every week.
But it sure would help achieve the bowl goal if they could do it again this week.
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