Say bye to the bye week; the big games are about to begin!
Based on what we’ve seen through five weeks, how tough is each of the Arizona Wildcats’ remaining games? How has that opinion changed since before the season started? Do you have any pictures of Todd Graham making a scary face?
Arizona’s 2014 schedule divides nicely into thirds. The first third featured three home games and everything went according to plan (margin of victory, shmargin of shmictory).
The degree of difficulty goes up quite a few notches with this second quartet of games. The Cats face two top-10 opponents in Oregon and UCLA, both on the road, and the lone home game is against a ranked USC squad.
Things ease up down the homestretch with three of the final four games at Arizona Stadium and none against a team currently ranked in the AP top 25. Keep that in mind if this next third doesn’t go well. Even if the UA were to find itself at 4-4 the team could still rally to finish with seven or eight regular season victories and secure another bowl game.
Taking what we’ve learned so far this season let’s rate each of the Wildcats’ remaining games in terms of toughness. The star system isn’t very burly so we’re going to use the most terrifying creature west of Pittsburgh…Toddzilla.
One Toddzilla is mildly intimidating while five Toddzillas are enough to make even the stoutest man quake in his Countryman headset.
at No. 2 Oregon (4-0 / 1-0)
If it wasn’t enough that the Ducks might be the best team in the country, or that Rich Rodriguez’s last trip to Autzen Stadium was a 49-0 defeat, Oregon also has the revenge factor on its side. Eek.
No. 16 USC (3-1 / 2-0)
Will the Cats see the USC defense that shut down Stanford and Oregon State or the one that got run over by Boston College? RichRod beat both the Trojans and Steve Sarkisian in Tucson in 2012.
at WSU (2-3 / 1-1)
The Cougars looked dead in the water after losing to Rutgers and Nevada but Wazzu played Oregon tough and rallied to win at Utah. Add in WSU beating Arizona last year and this won’t be an easy game.
at No. 8 UCLA (4-0 / 1-0)
Cat fans had a hearty laugh when the Bruins hung 62 points on the Sun Devils but it was only two season ago that UCLA dished out a 66-10 drubbing of Rodriguez’s guys in Pasadena. Advanced scouting report: Don’t throw, kick, fumble, lateral or hand off the ball anywhere near Ishmael Adams.
Colorado (2-3 / 0-2)
A must-must-must-win game. The Buffs just passed for seven touchdowns in a game…and still lost.
Washington (4-1 / 0-1)
This is the one game that looks less daunting than it did before the season. The Huskies beat a 1-3 Hawai’i team by one. They gave up 52 points to a Big Sky team. UW trailed 1-3 Georgia State 14-0 at the half. Stanford held Washington to 179 yards. It does not look like it’ll be smooth sailing in Chris Petersen’s first season away from the blue turf of Boise State.
at Utah (3-1 / 0-1)
The Utes look better this year. Through 13 quarters of the season they looked a lot better. But Utah coughed up a 21-0 lead against WSU and now they play at UCLA, at OSU, USC, at ASU, Oregon, at Stanford. It’s possible the Utes could still be looking for their first Pac-12 win of the year when Arizona comes to down in late November.
ASU (3-1 / 1-1)
All the Toddzillas come out when the Territorial Cup is at stake!
There was definitely relief in the Wildcat Universe when the Sun Devils started looking like they lost nine starters on defense. Colorado gained 545 yards on them and UCLA needed just 58 plays to churn out 580 yards in Tempe Thursday night. The Devils will score more points when QB Taylor Kelly returns from his injury but it’ll be interesting to see if he comes backs quick enough and healthy enough to make a difference against USC and Stanford in the next two weeks.
Now, it’s worth noting that every other Pac-12 team doing this same exercise is going to say the Arizona game looks easier now than it did before the season. UTSA, Nevada and Cal were not supposed to be close games when the schedule was released and each came down to the final play.
When you look at the final three undefeated teams in the Pac-12 it’s certainly a case of “One of these things is not like the other.”
Arizona merely held serve through the first third of the season. The next four games will show if UA fans should be nervous, or if the Wildcats are ready to be feared.
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