Shot Down: Arizona Football’s flirtation with Pac-12 South title ends with slap in the faceby Scott Terrell on Nov. 05, 2012, under Sports
So were you really in love?
That’s what determines how much it hurts after a breakup. Was it a serious relationship that had long-term potential or were you still in the getting-to-know-each-other phase?
The Arizona Wildcats and their fans had a short fling with the concept of a Pac-12 South championship. That relationship came to an embarrassing end at UCLA and the UA may be looking for a new dance partner without its starting quarterback.
Some fans will say they weren’t that into it from the start, that they didn’t take the idea of the Cats running the table seriously, and that’s fine. Some, however, fell head over heels after the USC win and thought, This is the one! Those are the UA fans that will have the hardest time moving past this and getting up for the remaining games.
Me? I was somewhere in the middle. I’m not going to apologize for digging into scenarios that would’ve put Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game or beyond. The buildup to the UCLA game was a lot of fun. I’d much rather have things play out exactly like they did as opposed to squeaking by Washington, losing to USC and having a “respectable” loss in Pasadena with nothing at stake.
The stakes have been lowered but there’s still a big milestone right in front of this team. Arizona needs one more win to become bowl eligible so all the focus now needs to be on Colorado. That’s not just a sports cliché because the UA’s worst-case scenario came true with Matt Scott’s injury. We got a glimpse of Life After MARS and it wasn’t pretty.
(Obviously the Hank Hobson scare was the biggest injury. It’s great to hear he was able to leave the hospital on Sunday and fly back to Tucson. But in terms of the rest of this season, Scott taking a knee to the head was a bigger blow than any of UCLA’s 66 points.)
The Wildcats are currently 10th in the nation in total offense. How far does that drop with B.J. Denker, Richard Morrison or even Javelle Allen playing quarterback? I expect those of us in Saturday’s homecoming crowd to find out.
Colorado is 115th out of 120 FBS teams in total defense. But you know who is below CU, allowing 0.67 more yards per game than the Buffaloes? Arizona. I expect Colorado to have a very enthusiastic week of practice.
The Wildcats will be looking to hold onto the hunger after a hefty dose of humility.
Mike Stoops’ rebuilding job gave this program two chances to play as a contender, two opportunities to face the big boys as a peer. In both instances – the 2009 GameDay showdown with Oregon and the 2010 top-15 clash with Stanford – the Cats came up short and it was soon determined Stoops and Arizona Football had irreconcilable differences.
The results of Rich Rodriguez’s first UA game with contender status were shockingly poor. Perhaps when it’s all said and done we’ll look back at this team and see it had no business being on that battle-for-first-place date, like a regular Joe somehow finding himself at dinner with a beauty queen. If that’s the case this year’s wins will be held in higher esteem and the upset of USC will far outweigh the UCLA loss. Or maybe these Cats have three more wins in them and we’ll look back at “L.A. Nights” and wonder what might have been.
Either way I don’t believe for a minute this will be the last time RichRod has Arizona playing a high-stakes game in November, and I expect the program to be ready the next time. It’ll take a lot of work in the weight room, possibly a wardrobe enhancement and definitely a boost to the bank account, but when that next shot at a dream date comes along the Wildcats will be far more charming.
And maybe, just maybe, they’ll be able to seal the deal.
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