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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cats rejuvenated after Territorial Cup win

    Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona meets Arizona State University in an NCAA mens football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2009. Arizona went on to win 20-17.
    Michael Ignatov
    Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets Arizona State University in an NCAA men’s football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2009. Arizona went on to win 20-17.

    After two consecutive losses by the Arizona football team, Saturday’s 20-17 win against ASU was big in more ways than one.

    The win boosted the Wildcats’ record to 7-4 and 5-3 in the Pacific 10 Conference and that greatly enhanced the team’s bowl prospects. The victory also halted a two-game losing skid and seemed to give the team a boost heading into this week’s season finale against No. 20 USC in Los Angeles.

    “”I think this has been a hard stretch for us. I think that win goes a long way for us in giving us momentum going into this game to end the season,”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said Monday during his weekly press conference. “”I think both teams, (neither) has anything to lose. All this is for position.””

    If Arizona did fall to the Sun Devils, the Wildcats would have needed a win against the Trojans to avoid finishing in sixth place in the league with a .500 record. According to NCAA rules, every team with a winning record must be selected to a bowl game before 6-6 teams. By that aspect alone, the win in the Duel in the Desert was big for the Wildcats. Arizona has managed to win three close games this season — Oregon State, Stanford and ASU — and that shows the kind of progress the UA program has made during the past few seasons.

    “”Until you’ve really separate yourself one way or another and become that much better, which is very difficult to do in this league, I think you’ve got to understand that it’s not always easy to accept the losses,”” said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.

    “”You hate to go back and say ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda,'”” he added, “”but the fact of the matter is we are a few plays away from playing this game (against USC) for the Rose Bowl and that’s both good and bad.””

    UA excited for match-up against Trojans

    While it might seem strange to some that the Wildcats didn’t wrap up their season after the rivalry game, that doesn’t mean the team isn’t pumped up for Saturday’s game against USC. The Trojans’ streak of seven straight Pac-10 titles has ended — the winner of Thursday night’s game between No. 7 Oregon and No. 13 Oregon State will decide the Pac-10 champion — but that doesn’t mean USC will be an easy opponent.

    In fact, UA players and coaches still see the Trojans as one of the better teams in the nation.

    “”It’s going to be their last game of the season, and especially playing at the Coliseum, I don’t think they’re going to be that vulnerable. They’re still USC, they still have all the athletes they have,”” said UA offensive lineman Vaughn Dotsy. “”Either way it’s still going to be a tough game like any other game, but I think with the team we have this year it’s a good time to get them.””

    When comparing this year team to those of the past, USC has struggled. The Wildcats have made big strides during the past two seasons. USC allowed 99 total points in losses to Oregon and Stanford, and Arizona only lost to USC by one touchdown in each of the past two seasons.

    “”I think the biggest thing that was our problem in the past was our confidence level,”” said defensive tackle Donald Horton. “”It was like, ‘Can we really beat them?’ and by the second or third quarter it was like, ‘Man, we’re really playing with these guys.’

    “”But as good as that team is, you can’t wait that late. They’re clicking on all cylinders by then,”” he added.

    Mark Stoops candidate for head coaching job at Youngstown State

    Mark Stoops — the defensive coordinator for the Wildcats during all of Mike Stoops’ time in Tucson — is being considered as one of the candidates to be the head coach at Division I-AA Youngstown State, according to media in Ohio.

    “”I’ve invested too much in this program to even go anywhere with that stuff until after the season,”” said Mark Stoops, who grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. “”I’m too close to this program, I work for my brother so all of that stuff takes care of itself later, really.

    “”I really just care about trying to finish on a good note,”” he added. “”To finish 8-4 here and to have a chance to finish tied for second in this league is really quite amazing.””

    Bob Stoops, the head coach at Oklahoma, is rumored to be a potential successor to Charlie Weis at Notre Dame after the Fighting Irish fired Weis on Monday. Mike Stoops said he wouldn’t comment on either of his brothers’ potential new jobs, but he did comment on the distractions such talk might create.

    “”It all depends on what’s your interest level. If there’s no interest at all then I don’t think it’s distracting at all,”” Mike Stoops said. “”If it was serious, we would talk about it I’m sure, but I don’t think those are strong possibilities.””

    Stoops vs. Stoops in Sun Bowl?

    With a win against the Trojans, Arizona would finish in a tie for second in the Pac-10 and would have a slew of bowl prospects. If teams end up tied in the conference standings the non-BCS bowl committees don’t have to honor any potential tiebreakers. Arizona could wind up as high as the Holiday Bowl — a game for the league’s No. 2 team — or in the Emerald Bowl — a game for the league’s No. 5 team.

    A potential destination for the Wildcats would be El Paso, Texas, for a Dec. 31 date in the Sun Bowl to play a Big 12 team. One team Arizona could face is Oklahoma, coached by Bob Stoops. The possibility for a Stoops Bowl might be intriguing for fans, but Mike Stoops seemed less than enthused at the prospect of playing against his older brother’s team.

    “”I don’t think it would be fun for either one of us. I think it would be very uncomfortable for probably everyone,”” Mike Stoops said. “”(A Stoops Bowl) would be awkward, but we’ll see what happens.””

    It would also be awkward for the Stoops brothers’ mother, Dee Stoops. Who would she root for when three of her boys are playing against each other?

    “”Oh, it would be hard. I don’t know who you cheer for,”” Mike Stoops said with a chuckle. “”I guess you couldn’t lose.””

    Injury update

    Junior running back Nic Grigsby missed the Wildcats’ win against ASU as he continued to nurse a nagging shoulder injury. Mike Stoops said Grigsby wouldn’t play against USC on Saturday, but he could return for the team’s bowl game. Also missing from the ASU game was sophomore wide out David Douglas. He suffered a thigh bruise in the loss to Oregon on Nov. 21. Mike Stoops said Douglas is “”day-to-day”” but likely won’t suit up against the Trojans.

    Redshirt sophomore quarterback Nick Foles is also banged up. During the ASU game, Foles wore a glove on his left hand — his non-throwing hand but doesn’t expect his hand to be an issue during Saturday’s game against the Trojans.

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