Idealism: Arizona’s best-case scenario as Cats begin Pac-12 playby Scott Terrell on Sep. 23, 2013, under Sports
The Arizona Wildcats are undefeated!
Now how long can they stay that way?
The UA went 3-0 in its non-conference games but it’s easy to say that the Cats played a bunch of nobodies. It is also true, however, that the nobodies of NAU, UNLV and UTSA are a combined 5-0 since playing Arizona.
Views on the upcoming Pac-12 schedule can be split the same way. It’s easy to say, “Eh, this team can’t do any better than 3-6 or 4-5 against the big boys.”
Or you can say, “What’s the absolute best the Wildcats can do this year? What if everything goes Arizona’s way?”
Which way are we going right now, right here? You know what our (brand new) motto is: 100% biased optimism or your money back!
Read my fingers: These are not predictions. Call them best-case-scenario (the other BCS) projections. If something magical is going to happen in Rich Rodriguez‘s second season, what does it look like?
UCLA won the Pac-12 South in both years of its existence and the Bruins are again the favorite this season. How many losses can we find for Jim Mora’s crew?
UCLA – WU’s 2013 BCS Projections (6-3)
That doesn’t look outrageous, right? The Cardinal and Ducks are going to be solid favorites at home.
The biggest stretch is the loss in Tucson, especially since UCLA beat the Cats 66-10 last year. But two years ago Arizona beat the Bruins by 36 in the naked ref game. In fact, UCLA hasn’t won at Arizona Stadium since John Mackovic’s final season. That’s right, Mike Stoops went 5-2 against UCLA, including a perfect 3-0 at home. You may recall the highlight being a certain Homecoming game in early November eight years ago.
Oh, by the way, Nov. 9 against UCLA is Arizona’s Homecoming this year.
On to contender #2:
Arizona State – WU’s 2013 BCS Projections (6-3)
The first loss is already in the books. If you’re expecting the Sun Devils to beat a ranked team on the road you weren’t paying attention this past weekend or the last eleven years.
That makes the biggest hurdle, again, the Arizona game. It means the Wildcats would have to win the Territorial Cup in Tempe. In other words, do what they did in 2011, and 2009, and 2001, and 1997, and 1995, and 1993. The UA is 6-4 at Sun Devil Stadium in the last two decades and that’s after The Streak ended.
So if all of the above happens where does that leave the Cats?
ARIZONA – WU’s 2013 BCS Projections (7-2)
Your 2013 Pac-12 South Champions? One game away from the Nose Hole?
Obviously there are a lot of traps on this map. Winning one conference road game is tough, let alone four of them. Utah and Wazzu will come to Tucson with a better passing game than the Wildats. UCLA had that 66-10 thing.
It’s not probable but it wouldn’t require any wins against top-10 teams. Four of the seven projected wins are against teams that had losing records last year and USC may be headed that way this year.
Beat the rebuilding/imploding teams, upset a ranked team at home and win a rivalry game. That’s not impossible.
(By the way, the above scenarios would put the Cats and Devils both at 6-2 heading into the Territorial Cup game with the winner taking the division crown. That would certainly make for an interesting Thanksgiving in the Grand Canyon State.)
So it begins this week. Well, it begins one of these weeks. You’ll notice the Washington game is booked as a loss. I’m not conceding this week’s game in Seattle but the point is even if Arizona’s 2013 Pac-12 opener ends up looking a lot like last year’s Pac-12 opener you can’t give up on the season. If the Cats beat USC after bye week number two they’re right back on schedule, and the Trojans scored a combined 24 points at home against Washington State and Utah State this month.
So even though We The People have waited five weeks to see what kind of team we have in Tucson this year, we way have to wait two more weeks to get a true reading.
If the Cats start 0-2 in Pac-12 play, so be it. Shelve the huge goals and refocus on getting better and getting to another bowl game.
But if Arizona can split these two road games? Then you have five straight one-game seasons where every win keeps the dream alive another week.
Let the dream live.
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