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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Does Arizona belong in Top 10?

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats opened Pacific 10 Conference play against the University of California on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rallied from a six-point deficit and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes to edge the Golden Bears 10-9.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats opened Pacific 10 Conference play against the University of California on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rallied from a six-point deficit and scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes to edge the Golden Bears 10-9.

Pro: Defense, circumstances are right

The fact that people have been openly questioning and even complaining that Arizona jumped from No. 14 to No. 9 in the AP Poll astounds me.

The Wildcats have done all that can be asked of them so far, winning all their games on their way to the first 4-0 start of this millennium, and they’ve done it in a way that makes national voters notice.

People assume Arizona is an offensive team since quarterback Nick Foles is the most recognizable face in the program. Yet while the offense has been good — for the most part — it’s the defense that has carried the Wildcats.

Offense sells tickets, defense wins games.

The defense has been nothing short of amazing. The unit ranks first in the Pacific 10 Conference in all major defensive categories — rushing defense, pass defense, total defense and scoring defense — and is in the top five nationally in all of those categories except rush defense.

The only defense that ranks better than them nationally in total defense is Boise State, and the only team that has given up fewer touchdowns than Arizona is Alabama. Yes, Alabama and Boise State — two top 10 teams that are expected to contend for the national title for the entire season.

Offense sells tickets, defense wins games … and garners national respect.

But more than what the Wildcats have done off the field, it’s what the teams ahead of them did over the weekend that helped the ‘Cats move into the top 10.

Stanford lost. Wisconsin lost. Florida got embarrassed. LSU squeaked out one of the ugliest victories you’ll ever see. Arkansas didn’t play, but Arizona jumped ahead because the Razorbacks have a loss. Utah was idle as well, but Arizona has played a better schedule.

Speaking of Arizona’s schedule, did anyone catch any of the Iowa/Penn State game? Iowa completely shut down the Nittany Lions and played like the national contender it’s been all season.

Don’t underestimate the Wildcats’ thrashing of the Hawkeyes. That win is the main reason Arizona is No. 9 rather than No. 10 or No. 11.

Con: Bye produces unexpected ranking

Arizona fans expected a break after two weeks of last-minute wins over Iowa and California. The players expected a rest after two weeks of grinding it out on the field. Head coach Mike Stoops expected some time off to prepare for Oregon State this weekend.

But for every Wildcat fan that woke up Sunday morning and saw the AP rankings, they probably weren’t expecting a Top-10 ranking, Arizona’s best since pre-season 1999.

You certainly won’t hear the football team or Arizona athletics complain.

Now, Arizona football is good. Very good. But should the rankings have placed the Wildcats in the Top-10 after they had a bye this week? Probably not.

Personally, I think the accomplishment of cracking into the elite of the elite nationally is great for the program — recruiting-wise and for the fact that the team is trying make the Rose Bowl.

But I can’t comprehend how a team — any team for that matter — can jump five spots and into the Top-10 during its bye week, especially when other teams stayed perfect on the season.

Did Arizona’s rest really impress the voters? Did the fact that they had time off to recover and get players back on the field for practice warrant the five-place jump?

Nebraska also had a bye week, but it moved down a spot. Apparently, its rest wasn’t as impressive as Arizona’s.

And LSU stayed at No. 12 after winning — although it was a last second win.  

Arizona jumped 10 spots after beating Iowa, none after beating Cal, and five after a bye week.

Ridiculous, and not because of what has Arizona has done during the season when it’s actually played, but because the bye week gave the Wildcats so much help in the polls.

True, there was some shake up in the Top-10, but Stanford and Florida losing to the No. 3 and No. 1 teams in the nation, respectively, doesn’t get Arizona into the Top-10 by itself.

If things continue to go this way for the Wildcats in the polls, maybe head coach Mike Stoops won’t put his team on the field again this season.

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