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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

South Carolina State might not be as talented as Arizona, but Wildcats can’t afford to look past them

Georgia+Tech+quarterback+Joshua+Nesbitt+stiff-arms+a+South+Carolina+State+player+as+he+runs+for+his+third+touchdown+at+Bobby+Dodd+Stadium+in+Atlanta%2C+Georgia%2C+on+Saturday+September+4%2C+2010.+Georgia+Tech+won%2C+41-10.+%28Johnny+Crawford%2FAtlanta+Journal-Constitution%2FMCT%29
Johnny Crawford
Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt stiff-arms a South Carolina State player as he runs for his third touchdown at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday September 4, 2010. Georgia Tech won, 41-10. (Johnny Crawford/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)

“Keep an eye on the South Carolina State football team.”

“Why isn’t South Carolina State an FBS program?”

“They may have lost to Bethune-Cookman last week, but watch out for the Bulldogs.”

People don’t say these things.

That’s not necessarily a shot at South Carolina State, but expectations are typically low when FCS programs take on big conference, Division I foes like the UA.

People weren’t saying those things about Appalachian State in 2007 either, when a No. 5-ranked Michigan squad took on the Mountaineers at the “Big House” in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Mountaineers had won two consecutive championships in the FCS (then called Division I-AA) level, but nobody outside of Boone, N.C. really cared.

Then, Appalachian State won the game 34-32.

Arizona isn’t as highly touted as the Wolverines were, and ditto for South Carolina State compared to Appalachian. Still, it goes without saying, the Wildcats should not be looking past the Bulldogs to their matchup with the No. 4 Oregon.

Ironically, Michigan did literally the same thing five years ago.

The Wolverines followed up the appropriately dubbed “horror” with a 32-point spanking at the hands of the then-unranked Ducks.

“It’s football, anything can happen on any given night,” said sophomore receiver Austin Hill.

True.

South Carolina State might have just lost to the almighty Bethune-Cookman, but this isn’t head coach Buddy Pough’s first trip around the block.

It’s not easy to find statistics from years past about the Bulldogs online, but Pough has held his position for 11 years, compiling an 84-34 record and winning four conference titles.

Before he became head coach at South Carolina State, Pough spent five years as an assistant at the University of South Carolina under Lou Holtz.

Due to a lack of readily available scouting reports, it’s hard to tell what exactly South Carolina State brings to the table talent-wise. According to linebacker Jake Fischer, it’s a run-first squad, even though the Bulldogs’ leading rusher has just 109 yards through two games.

“They like to run a lot, use their fullbacks and tight ends,” Fischer said. “We’re actually looking forward to playing a team like that, we’re not looking [past] this weekend.

Due to the stigma that comes with an FCS program, UA fans might just riot if the Wildcats win by anything less than 30 points.

They will point to the fact that Oklahoma State beat FCS opponent Savannah State 84-0 before losing to Arizona. By the transitive property, the Wildcats should at least score that many points, right?

Well, no. In fact, in the UA’s last eight games against FCS opponents, the Wildcats have only won by more than 30 points three times.

“In today’s game, you’re not going to be able to beat many teams by that many points, so we’re really trying to get a win,” Fischer said. “We’re basically just gonna try and execute the game plan that we set forth. If we do that, the score will take care of itself.”

Best case scenario, the Wildcats jump out to an early multi-touchdown lead and head coach Rich Rodriguez is able to rest the Matt Scotts, Ka’Deem Careys and Jake Fischers of the team, giving Arizona fans the chance to experience the phenomenon that is “Vanilla Vick,” otherwise known as backup quarterback B.J. Denker.

Rodriguez has called Denker one of the fastest players on the entire roster.

Worst case scenario, the Wildcats relive Michigan’s “horror” and make it two weeks in a row that a Pac-12 team has fallen to the FCS, after Colorado lost to Sacramento State last week.

If half of what Fischer says is true, though, Arizona will be all right.

“Coach Rodriguez has done a great job of instilling in us that anybody can win any game,” Fischer said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s [FCS]. They can watch the tapes and see what we did bad. There are a lot of things we did do bad [the first two weeks].

“They have athletes just like we do and guys that love to play football, so anyone can beat anyone. That’s the kind of mind set we have now and we’re gonna go out and just play our game.”

_— Zack Rosenblatt is the sports editor. He can be reached at
sports@wildcat.arizona.edu and via twitter WildcatSports or ZackBlatt_

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