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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Arizona football in midst of best season

during+the+first+half+of+Arizonas+21-21+tie+to+ASU+at+Arizona+Stadium+on+Friday.+
Rebecca Marie Sasnett
during the first half of Arizona’s 21-21 tie to ASU at Arizona Stadium on Friday.

While Arizona football has two or even three games left in the season, it’s already the UA’s best campaign ever. The 1993 and 1998 seasons are generally regarded as the Wildcats’ best, but this year may change that.

In 1993, the Wildcats went 10-2, won Arizona’s only Pac-10/12 Conference title and beat Miami 29-0 in the Fiesta Bowl. In 1998, Arizona went 12-1 and beat Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.

However, even if the Wildcats (10-2, 9-2 Pac-12) end the season 10-4, it is already Arizona’s best season ever.

The UA boasts wins at then-No. 2 Oregon on the road, a blow out of then No. 17/20 Utah on the road and No. 13/13 ASU at home.

The only ranked teams the 1993 Wildcats beat were No. 25 Washington State at home and No. 10 Miami in the state of Arizona. The 1998 Wildcats only beat No. 20 Washington, No. 12 Oregon on the road and No. 9 Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.

This season, Arizona already has more wins over ranked teams than the 1993 Wildcats, with two or three games left. While the 1998 Wildcats also had three wins over ranked teams, only one was on the road and they only made the Holiday Bowl. San Diego is nice and classy, but the 2014 Wildcats are likely headed to a major bowl.

Arizona has other seasons where they enjoyed similar success against ranked teams, but it didn’t have the best endings.

In 1989, the Wildcats beat four AP-ranked teams: No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 11 Washington and No. 22 UCLA at home and No. 15 Washington State on the road. However, that season, they only managed a Copper Bowl appearance.

In 1990, Arizona defeated three AP Top-25 teams: No. 11 Illinois and No. 18 Oregon at home and No. 15 USC on the road. But that season ended with a trip to the Aloha Bowl, where the Wildcats lost 28-0 to Syracuse.

In 1992, the Wildcats beat three AP-ranked teams: No. 11 UCLA and No. 1 Washington at home and No. 8 Stanford on the road. But, again, that season ended with an unsatisfactory bowl, a 20-15 loss to Baylor in the Hancock Bowl.

Arizona could very well get spanked in the bowl game and end the season on a sour note, but it’s likely clinched a spot in one of the New Year’s Six bowl games: Cotton, Fiesta, Orange or Peach in addition to the school’s first ever Pac-12 South championship. For the math majors out there, the other two New Year’s Six games are the Rose and Sugar Bowls, which are the semifinals of the College Football Playoff.

Remember, the college football Jedi Council added two bowls this year to the old BCS bowl lineup — the Cotton and the Peach — so that’s four more chances to play in a major bowl, with 12 total slots now.

If Arizona loses to Oregon, then the Ducks will go to the College Football Playoff, freeing up the Pac-12’s champion slot in the New Year’s Six for the Wildcats. If the UA upsets the Ducks again, then at worst it gets the Pac-12 champion’s slot and could move into the College Football Playoff and even — gasp! — the Wildcats’ first ever Rose Bowl.

Ultimately, can any season top one that features the Hill Mary, the Scooby Strip and Casey Skowron’s redemption kick? At that pace, something amazing will happen in Silicon Valley on Friday or in a place like Glendale, Ariz., North Texas, Atlanta, New Orleans or Pasadena, Calif.

In November, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez kept saying that the more the Wildcats win, the better bowl game they will get.

Well, Arizona won so much it’s stumbled on the UA’s best season ever, with a freshman quarterback and running back and a sophomore middle linebacker.

What’s next?

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Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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