Another last-minute ball bounced the 2014 Arizona Wildcats’ way but this time the kick went through the uprights.
With just two rounds of ball-bouncing remaining the list of possibilities grows shorter. What can the UA gain (or lose) based on every potential result combination over the final couple weeks of the regular season?
Another wild weekend in the Pac-12 means UCLA is in the South driver’s seat for the first time in seven weeks and we had to update Arizona’s buzzer-beater blog.
Casey Skowron’s heroics against Washington kept the UA alive in the Pac-12 South race but, as you’ve probably heard, the Cats need four games to go perfectly: Arizona beats Utah and ASU, UCLA beats USC, and Stanford beats UCLA. In other words, a good team (and the correct good team) has to lose four straight times.
But, hey, it could be worse. Utah needs six games to go exactly its way to cause a five-way tie at 6-3 in order to win the South.
Perhaps the least likely result that both Arizona and Utah need is Stanford beating UCLA in the Rose Bowl. The Cardinal has five wins and they are against UC Davis, Army, Washington, Washington State and Oregon State. This is not a good football team.
Therefore, being realistic, we’ll give the Bruins the win over Stanford. UCLA is also favored at home this week against USC so for the sake of this exercise we’ll count that as a Bruin victory as well, making them the South champs.
If Oregon then beats UCLA (again), the Ducks will be in the College Football Playoff, the Bruins will be 10-3 and we’ll say USC beats Notre Dame to leave the Trojans at 8-4. We’re also giving ASU the win at home against Wazzu this week.
Starting with those assumptions, here is every possible scenario for Arizona over the final two weeks:
Lose to Utah and ASU
Record: 8-4 / 5-4, 4th in Pac-12 South
Projected Bowl: Sun
A 10-win UCLA or ASU team probably makes the Fiesta Bowl and Arizona, even at 8-4, would be more attractive than anybody available out of the North.
Comment: I’d be fine with the Cats playing in El Paso for the first time in 22 years but nobody wants to get there carrying a two-game losing streak (and losing to Those Guys for the third consecutive year).
Beat Utah, lose to ASU
Record: 9-3 / 6-3, tied for 3rd in Pac-12 South
Projected Bowl: San Francisco
UCLA and ASU still end up in the Fiesta and Alamo Bowls in some order and I’m guessing 8-4 USC gets picked over Arizona so the Trojans can play in the Holiday Bowl for the first time ever.
Comment: It would be impossible to complain about the Cats winning nine games with a shot at 10, but losing to ASU, UCLA and USC makes it the least-pleasant nine-win season possible.
Another Comment: How has USC played in a Texas bowl four times and Florida bowls three times but never once in San Diego??
Lose to Utah, beat ASU
Record: 9-3 / 6-3, four-way tie for 2nd in Pac-12 South
Projected Bowl: Alamo
After UCLA goes to the Fiesta, San Antonio gets to pick between Arizona, ASU, USC and Utah. The Trojans have one fewer win than everyone else so they’re out. The UA would have just beaten ASU to make Arizona more attractive. It’s not just my Red-and-Blue glasses that are making the Wildcats and their high-wire act more appealing than Utah, right?
Comment: Where do I sign?
Beat Utah and ASU
Record: 10-2 / 7-2, tied for 1st in Pac-12 South
Projected Bowl: Fiesta
UCLA would still win the tiebreaker and play in the Pac-12 title game but if the Bruins fall to the Ducks the hottest Pac-12 team outside of Eugene would be Arizona and its four-game winning streak including two straight over ranked teams. Hello, Glendale!
Comment: [None, because I just passed out.]
Comment After Regaining Consciousness: Rich Rodriguez taking Arizona from 4-8 to 10-2 in just third seasons? Greg Byrne would have to ask the folks at Davis-Monthan to intercept any aircraft originating from Gainesville, Florida.
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When the Pac-12’s fourth-best bowl game is your worst-case scenario you’re having a pretty darn good season. That’s what happens with you move to 5-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less.
The Wildcats are probably staring at two more nail-biter-until-bloody games but winning one opens up some very nice bowl options. Winning both would
[Edit: Writer has again lost consciousness.]
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