Nobody’s Home: Cats fail at Cal but will try Door #2by Scott Terrell on Nov. 16, 2009, under Sports
We’ve been here before.
Let’s do it again.
Why can’t we just lose like normal teams? When it comes to big games Arizona doesn’t do “Their QB just caught fire and there was nothing we could do” losses or “They were simply the better team” losses. No, it has to be something you’ve never seen before. Around here, once-in-a-lifetime plays happen every other year.
Foot Game, meet the Double-Pass Game. As if our armoire of traumatizing memoirs wasn’t already full.
In the grand scheme of things this loss doesn’t change anything. The team still controls its own fate for the league championship while at the same time being right on pace for the 7-5 season we hoped for in August. Losing at Cal doesn’t change any of that, but that’s the point. We wanted this game to change things.
We wanted a team that was going to rise to the occasion and play its best ball when the stakes were highest. We wanted a team of destiny that was going to take advantage of all the good fortune going on around us.
The extraordinary excitement leading up to this game wasn’t so much because of something the Wildcats did as it was because of what was going on everywhere else. If USC was undefeated and in the top five we wouldn’t have thought twice about being 4-2 in league play. But USC has three losses, Cal has three losses and Oregon has lost twice. OSU and Stanford waited until after losing to us to get red hot. We are getting every needed break. But breaks don’t mean you have a better team.
So why the doom and gloom? Because there are two sides to the equation. One is being in a position to win a championship. The other is having a team good enough to do so. We knew the Cats wouldn’t be eliminated with a loss at Cal, but we knew this was a measuring stick game, and Arizona didn’t measure up.
Does this mean we shun the team the rest of the way? Of course not. You don’t stop loving your dad when you discover he isn’t Superman. You’re just sad for a while.
The Wildcats didn’t roll over after the Washington loss and they won’t roll over now. You wish you were going into the Oregon game on a Stanford-like roll but we are what we are, and that’s still allergic to success.
The program hasn’t yet learned how to play from in front. We had our first chance with the yellow jersey but instead of riding like Lance Armstrong we rode like…uh…a cyclist other than Lance Armstrong.
So we find ourselves back in a familiar role: middle-of-the-standings, unranked underdog with a top team coming to town for a game on network TV. Thus knocketh opportunity a second time.
We found Nick Foles behind Door #2. Maybe we can find late-season magic there too.
Do you believe? Do you even want to believe? The bigger the dreams the harder they fall. Do we ignore the Cal game, focus on the “Win three and we’re in” mantra and dive heart-first into the Oregon showdown, or do we scale hopes back to 7-5 and prepare for the worst on Saturday?
I’m not going to decide. Conference champions win games like this, but 7-5 teams can too. I’m going to go to GameDay. I’m going to participate in the Red Out. Not because it’s the first step in a miraculous run toward a dream, but because my team is playing at home and we can win a really big game.
We’ll worry about scenarios and expectations again next week. This week is about packing the Stadium, making a ton of noise, and storming the field.
So, yes, I want a little zing in my zang-zang.