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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“Stoops, Arizona excited about GameDay”

Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets Washington State University in an NCAA football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 7, 2009. Arizona up 34-0 at the half.

The Arizona football team and coaching staff went to sleep on Saturday night depressed after a heartbreaking loss but woke up Sunday morning to some good news.

ESPN “”College GameDay”” announced it will be in Tucson this weekend to host its weekly

pregame show.

“”I think it’s great for our university, it’s great for our football program and it’s great for our fans,”” head coach Mike Stoops said during his weekly press conference on Monday morning. “”It’s fun to see and it’s fun to be a part of.””

“”I think it brings some enthusiasm to the stadium, and we’re going to need a lot of help (against Oregon),”” Stoops added. “”I think our fans have always supported us in a very strong way, and I look forward to it being a very entertaining night and day.””

In addition to the bells and whistles that ESPN and its cast of colorful characters will bring to Tucson, the arrival of the world’s premier sports media outlet is further proof that Arizona football (6-3, 4-2 Pacific 10 Conference) is headed in a positive direction under Stoops’ leadership.

“”I think all the exposure helps,”” Stoops added. “”It’s hard to gauge to what degree, but I think winning and playing well has helped more than anything.””

Still plenty to play for

Despite ESPN being on campus, there’s still a game to play. A game whose outcome holds huge implications for Arizona.

The Wildcats still control their own destiny for the program’s first Rose Bowl appearance. All they have to do is win their final three games, starting with Oregon this Saturday.

“”We have our backs to the wall, and if we want to stay in this thing, we have to win,”” Stoops said. “”I look for our kids to take on that challenge and respond in a positive way.

“”You want to put yourself in a position (to make the Rose Bowl) this late in the year,”” he added. “”There’s a lot of football to play, but it’ll be over if we don’t win on Saturday.””

With two conference losses, the Wildcats are currently in a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-10 while Oregon is alone in first place with just one loss. Arizona has three games left to play and Oregon has two, so even if Oregon beats Arizona and loses its next game to Oregon State, Arizona still has no chance to win the Pac-10.

“”We control our own destiny,”” Stoops added. “”We’re ahead of everybody else if we win (against Oregon) with tiebreakers and all that, so there’s still an awful lot to play for.””

Because Arizona beat Stanford and Oregon State earlier in the season, the Wildcats could win the conference if they finish with the same conference record as either of those two teams.

Injury update

The injury report is looking better with each week, and Stoops expects to have most players back and ready to go for Saturday, including running back Nic Grigsby.

“”I think Nic looks good,”” Stoops said. “”He played a little at the end (of the Cal game), and I think he’ll be close to 100 percent.””

Grigsby was dressed for the game against Cal but did not see the field until the last series of the game when Arizona was in a clear passing situation. Stoops said that he might have been able to go, but he wasn’t comfortable enough to play him with a still-injured shoulder.

Stoops didn’t say whether Grigsby would start against Oregon, but he is expected to play.

Offensive linemen Herman Hall (shoulder) and Conan Amituanai (knee) are both expected to play this weekend, as is Brooks Reed (ankle). The defensive end started against Cal and played relatively well but was rusty.

Stoops said he expects Reed to be at full strength this week.

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