Arizona will face arguably the nation’s best receiver, quarterback and running back in three successive weeks, but the Wildcats have been challenged with a more arduous task before using the NFL draft as a gauge.
The 1995 Arizona team played the top four players who were selected in the 1996 NFL draft.
The Wildcats faced top draft pick Keyshawn Johnson, a receiver with USC; No. 2 and 3 picks from Illinois, Kevin Hardy, an outside linebacker, and Simeon Rice, a defensive end; and No. 4 pick Jonathon Ogden, a guard from UCLA.
Moreover, Oregon’s Alex Molden, the highest selected defensive back in 1996, also faced the Wildcats in the 1995 season. He was chosen as the No. 11 pick overall by New Orleans.
While the Wildcats may face the country’s best receiver (Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon), quarterback (Stanford’s Andrew Luck) and running back (Oregon’s LaMichael James) in consecutive weeks, no season can touch the 1995 schedule.
In a four-week span that season — before mid-October — the Wildcats were forced to prepare for Hardy and Rice, Johnson and Ogden. Arizona went 0-3 in those games but the Wildcats were competitive in games at Illinois (9-7 loss) and UCLA (17-10).