Feeling blue now? What if Arizona loses to Arizona State?by Anthony Gimino on Nov. 27, 2010, under Sports
Time to move on to Arizona State. That’s all that is left for Arizona.
The Wildcats entered the month with all their big dreams intact — starting with a Rose Bowl appearance — but three consecutive losses in this back-loaded schedule have put Arizona right where they started the season:
Shooting for an eight-win season and battling it out in the middle of the Pac-10.
That was, pretty much, the target for this team back in the preseason. Things changed, as things do, when the Wildcats beat Iowa and took care of the punier teams on their schedule. There’s nothing wrong with embracing the expectations.
For a while, this was looking like Arizona’s best season since the Wildcats went 12-1 in 1998.
Now, it’s looking like Arizona’s best season since … last year?
And maybe not even that.
Last year’s team was 6-3 in the Pac-10, beating four conference teams with winning records. The best this year’s team can do is finish 5-4 in the league — and none of the victories has come against the top teams in the league.
We all knew the final month was going to define the season. A 2-2 split against Stanford, USC, Oregon and Arizona would have worked just fine.
As it turned out, the Wildcats were simply out-classed by the Cardinal and Ducks. Self-inflicted mistakes didn’t help — and they certainly add to the frustration — but Arizona probably wasn’t going to win either game, either way.
Where the Wildcats blew it was against the Trojans, losing 24-21 in an uninspired home effort. In its closing stretch, Arizona just needed to hold serve at home against USC and ASU … and anything on the road against top 10 teams would be some tasty gravy.
If Arizona had shown up against USC with the same energy and passion it showed in the first half against Oregon, the Wildcats might have not be feeling so black and blue today.
But there’s nothing Arizona can do about that now as coach Mike Stoops tries to rally the troops from the program’s first three-game losing streak since the middle of the 2007 season.
If the Wildcats can beat ASU on Thursday night — and I would rate the odds just slightly in favor of Arizona right now — they would have an eight-win season and have a chance to do something good in a good bowl. That likely would be the Alamo or the Holiday.
As I’m sure we’ll hear about all week — there is still a lot to play for.
Beat ASU and win a bowl? Hey, 9-4 doesn’t sound too bad at all.
It sure beats one of the alternatives — a 7-6 record and a five-game losing streak heading into a long offseason.