Close-call Cats: Win some, lose someby Anthony Gimino on Oct. 10, 2010, under Sports
The Arizona Wildcats football team hasn’t really changed from the beginning of the season.
The AP ranking said the Cats were ninth in the nation last week, which, correctly, was a reflection of their resume. But, really? Ninth? Arizona is good enough to compete with a Top 10 team, to beat a Top 10 team, but actually being a Top 10 team seemed a little much.
Fun for the seven days it lasted?
I still think the same thing about Arizona as I did at the beginning of the season: The Wildcats are somewhere in the big, fat belly of the Pac-10 and they are going to play seven or eight conference games that:
1. Will go down to the wire.
2. Could turn on one or two key plays.
3. Might just be decided by the football gods.
If they go 6-3 in this Pac-10, that would be a heck of a fine season.
“The Pac-10 has a lot of great teams,” Arizona quarterback Nick Foles said after a 29-7 home loss to Oregon State on Saturday night. “And I know, for us, every week is going to be a tough game.”
During the bye week, a fellow Pac-10 sportswriter was trying to sell me on the idea that Arizona would get to at least 7-0. There was some logic to that. The Wildcats were already 4-0 and were going to be favored to beat Oregon State, and Washington State after that, and Washington after that.
The 7-0 projection made a lot of sense, one game at a time, but I argued that Arizona, collectively, just wasn’t good enough to win all three.
And then the Cats lost to Oregon State.
Arizona isn’t good enough to win them all, isn’t good enough to play well every time out.
Saturday night, the pass defense was horrible. Alex Zendejas’ place-kicking is worrisome again. Punter Keenyn Crier can’t down a punt inside the 20 to save his life. The production in the running game has slowed to a trickle. If only this team had a tight end to work the middle of the field.
Coaches and players were split after the game as to whether the team might have “lost its edge” or needed a “wake-up call” after the feel-good 4-0 start. Mostly, I just think the Wildcats got beat Saturday by a similarly talented team that played a little better.
Put me down for “win some, lose some.”
Things have been this close:
–Arizona’s past five conference games have been decided by a total of 13 points (UA is 3-2 in those games).
–Nine of Arizona’s past 11 conference games have been determined by eight points or less — basically, one score, including the two-point conversion (UA is 5-4 in those nine games).
That is a ridiculous amount of close games — Arizona had never played five consecutive Pac-10 games that each were decided by four points or less — but such is life for the competitive Cats in this competitive Pac-10.
“It is a long season,” coach Mike Stoops said. “None of the other teams in the conference really set themselves apart. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and we managed to overcome some, but it just didn’t happen for us tonight.”