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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    For ‘Cats it’s win or go home in ’07

    Ari Wasserman/Assistant Sports Editor
    Ari Wasserman/Assistant Sports Editor

    It isn’t uncommon to hear “”There’s always next year”” or “”Wait ’til basketball season”” come out of Arizona football fans’ mouths following another sub-.500 season or an additional bowl-less year.

    It also isn’t rare for expectations to run high in those very same fans’ minds before the season begins, only to have their excitement and enthusiasm disappear a few weeks later.

    This season is no different as of now. The fans are excited to get the year underway and the expectations are soaring through the roof. But the only question that remains unanswered is whether the Wildcats will perform.

    For every team, every season has certain games that define the whole year. So here are the swing games for Arizona that will separate a winning season that results in a bowl berth from a losing season filled with disappointment:

    At Brigham Young, Sept. 1:

    Although Arizona escaped last year’s opener against BYU 16-13 in Tucson, knocking off the Cougars will be a much higher task this season, not to mention it’s a must-win. Not only will this year’s game be held in Provo, Utah, but the Cougars are a much-improved squad that will begin the season as a team threatening to be in the AP top 25. If the Wildcats want to prove they are contenders and not pretenders, they will need to come out and beat BYU and move on to finish nonconference play 3-0.

    Vs. Washington State, Sept. 29:

    What? More Cougars? This will be a defining game in the Wildcats’ schedule. Barring another miracle, Arizona will most likely fall to California before it hosts Washington State the following week. If the Wildcats lose to the Cougars, they will begin the Pacific 10 Conference schedule 0-2. That may be the point of no return heading down the road to another dud season.

    At Washington, Oct. 27:

    This game always seems to be the schedule-buster for the Wildcats. Last year Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback shredded the Arizona defense for 293 yards passing and 96 yards rushing. The Huskies beat Arizona 21-10, scoring all 21 points in the last six minutes of the second quarter. After the loss, the Wildcats finished the rest of their schedule 4-3, but fell short of a bowl game.

    Vs. Oregon, Nov. 15:

    This was a huge victory a season ago, and this time the matchup is at home. It is the Wildcats’ final home game and may be a must-win at that point in the campaign. Depending on where they stand in the Pac-10, the Wildcats may need a victory going into ASU.

    At ASU, Dec. 1:

    How could this game not be on the list? Last year, although the Wildcats were bowl-eligible, the Sun Devils ripped the postseason out of the UA’s hands with a 28-14 victory. Although this is a rivalry game, it may end up being the most important swing game of them all. Heading into this matchup, the question may be, “”To bowl or not to bowl?””

    So, there you have it. If the Wildcats can rise up in these contests, Arizona fans may finish the season with a smile on their faces – and a postseason trip for the first time since 1998.

    Ari Wasserman is a journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu

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