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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“It just got harder, but it isn’t over”

Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Whether you were a fan at the stadium or watching back in Tucson, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for Arizona football players and coaches.

It was that sickening feeling that sits deep in your stomach and resonates for the rest of the night.

Another freak throw, another freak bounce and another freak loss. How could this happen to Arizona again?

If Washington was a ܻ uke, how does one describe this melee?

Arizona football hasn’t been relevant for more than 10 years, and in its entire history it’s only been relevant a handful of times. But heading into Saturday’s game at Cal, the Wildcats had the Paci‹ª c 10 Conference in their claws.

The Wildcats had a chance to make a national statement on Saturday: Beat Cal and become a national darling. Beat Cal and likely host ESPN “”College GameDay”” — the nation’s most proli‹ª c college football pregame show — in Tucson for the ‹ª rst time ever next week.

Win out, and go to the Rose Bowl.

All week long Arizona said it was aware of what was at stake, but refused to look beyond Cal. Considering how uninspired the Wildcats played, though, those lines seem more like a rehearsed script than spoken truth.

It was a hard loss. A disappointing loss, even.

But, believe it or not, it isn’t the end. If Arizona wins its last three games, it can still make it to the Rose Bowl.

As of now, the Wildcats are fourth in the Pac-10, but tied for second in the loss column. They’ve beaten two teams that are ahead of them already — Stanford and Oregon State — and if they do win out then they will have defeated Oregon.

Even if all four of the top teams in the conference finish with two losses, Arizona will own each tiebreaker since it beat all three of the other teams.

Second chances, second chances. They’re popping up everywhere.

Arizona had never been nationally recognized for its football program. Even this season, when the Wildcats slowly climbed up each and every poll, you were hard pressed to find any kind of Wildcats coverage on ESPN or any other elite sports media outlet.

The lack of national respect or even knowledge of the program was encouraged on Sunday when the Wildcats fell out of the Associated Press Top 25 polls.

But minutes before the polls were released, it was announced that ESPN’s “”College GameDay”” will in fact make the trip to Tucson, giving Arizona a chance to make a name for itself yet again.

The loss hurt, no doubt about it, but maybe it was a good thing.

After Arizona turned the ball over on downs late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Cal had 1:21 on the clock left to kill and Arizona only had one time out. If Cal quarterback Kevin Riley kneeled two or three times, the clock would have run out.

Barring a fluke fumble, the game would have been over. But instead of milking the clock, running back Shane Vereen took a handoff, cut back to his left and sprinted 61-yards for the score.

It seemed like the final dagger at first, but after a missed extra point Arizona got the ball back with a little over a minute down by eight — had they scored a touchdown and made a 2-point conversion, the game would have gone into overtime.

The long touchdown run originally seemed like a bad thing for Arizona, but it gave them something more to fight for.

Unfortunately, the Wildcats couldn’t get it together to take advantage.

Arizona can rally from this. The players can rise up in the face of disappointment and adversity and rattle off three straight wins to end the season.

The loss to Cal was undeniably a bad thing, but now the Wildcats must come together and seize the opportunity given to them. This time, let’s hope they take advantage.

— Tim Kosch is a journalism junior.

He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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