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The season’s last stand for Arizona: Beat ASU

Nick Foles

Nick Foles was intercepted three times at Colorado, including one in the final minute. Photo by Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Beat ASU.

That’s it. That’s all that’s left to do for the Arizona Wildcats.

They couldn’t beat Oklahoma State, Oregon, Stanford or USC. That’s understandable.

They couldn’t win at Oregon State. That was the final straw that got coach Mike Stoops fired.

They couldn’t win at Washington or beat Utah at home — two decent, but beatable teams — when there was still a postseason to play for. Oh well.

And then they flat-out embarrassed themselves at Colorado on Saturday, losing 48-29 to a team that hadn’t won a Pac-12 game. To a team that was averaging 18 points a game. To a team that had given up at least 500 yards in five consecutive games.

In reaching a new low, the Wildcats did their most unforgivable thing of the season.

“We have a lot of guys that play really, really hard, but I’m not sure we have a whole team that is doing that,” said interim head coach Tim Kish.

Said senior safety Robert Golden: “When the going gets rough for us, we fold somewhat. I feel like some guys on our team competed and other guys didn’t.”

From the start, Arizona didn’t match Colorado’s effort, and the Wildcats made the same kind of mistakes against the Buffs as they did against the elite teams. UA’s record fell to 2-8 overall and 1-7 in the Pac-12 — the worst mark in the league.

Some guys gave up when the potential reward was beating lowly Colorado.

You would think that playing against Arizona State would inspire a peak performance, but there is no counting on that.

“If you can’t get jacked up to play this weekend, then you might as well not even play,” said senior receiver David Douglas.

That sounds good, but will the Wildcats put that into action?

It’s not as if Arizona State is coming out with any momentum, either.

The Sun Devils surrendered control of the Pac-12 South race with a loss at UCLA on Nov. 5. And then on a cold and wet Saturday night in Pullman, Wash., with a chance to get back into the driver’s seat in the division after the Bruins’ loss at Utah, Arizona State sputtered and lost 37-27 to Washington State.

Plagued by injury issues in the secondary, the Devils gave up a staggering 494 passing yards to redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Halliday in the first extended playing time of his career.

ASU still is in decent shape to get to the Pac-12 championship game because it has an easier closing schedule than UCLA; the teams are tied at 4-3 in the conference. The Bruins get Colorado at home and USC on the road. The Devils get Arizona and Cal at home.

Yes, ASU needs help, but at least it still has big prizes in play. The Devils will be coming back home. They will be wearing their all-black uniforms.

“This is a true test,” senior receiver Gerell Robinson said of this week’s game.

“We will see what we are made of. Either we are going to stand up or we are going to lie down. That is just what it is.”

Same deal for Arizona.

This is all that’s left — beat ASU. Arizona finishes the following week against Louisiana-Lafayette in what will be an Arizona Stadium ghost town.

By then, Arizona could have a new coach in place or will be zeroing in on its candidate. The topic will be the future.

For this week, the topic is A-S-U.

“I challenged our guys to make it meaningful for them,” Kish said of what he told the team after the loss to Colorado. “We have to come back and start working hard on Monday the hardest they have worked all year. It’s not going to get any easier.”

Time to stand up.

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