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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



Deserving Wildcats have already beaten quality opponents

Mike Stoops’ football team has yet to be overly impressive. The Wildcats had their fair share of struggles against Central Michigan, NAU and most definitely at Iowa, but now they stand with a 3-1 record going into Washington.

Should they defeat the Huskies, the Wildcats deserve to slip into the top-25. Disbelievers would point to Arizona’s struggles ­— many of which came in wins — as evidence to keep the team on deck to the top 25. But this squad is exactly what Stoops said it would be at the beginning of the year: No one player or position stands out above the rest, but at the same time, very few holes exist at any area on the field.

The defense struggled to keep a Football Championship Subdivision team in NAU off the scoreboard during the Wildcat’s unimpressive 34-17 win in Tucson. Then, the offense sputtered against the Iowa Hawkeyes on the road.

Despite that, the Wildcats have pulled off the wins they were expected to and even some they were not. After beating Central Michigan, the Chippewas went on to defeat the Michigan State Spartans of the Big Ten Conference, showing they were no measly Division I squad. In its last away game, Arizona took out Oregon State, a team coached by Mike Riley, arguably the best head coach in the Pacific 10 Conference besides USC’s Pete Carroll.

And before that, the Wildcats’ game against Iowa proved less of a disappointment because of how poorly they played, and more of a disappointment due to how good a team Arizona had the opportunity to beat. Iowa went on to steal a game from then-No. 5 Penn State and now is placed in the top-15 of every major college football poll.

Speaking of polls, Arizona itself is the No. 22 team according to USA Today’s Sagarin ratings. That statistics-based ranking system, compiled by USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin, also shows the Wildcats have the No. 21 strength of schedule, proving that they aren’t being aided by playing struggling teams in the first third of the year.

Overall, Arizona has been inconsistent but has still yielded wins. Why not give the Wildcats credit?

—Kevin Zimmerman

Arizona win gives them top-25 chance down the road, not now

If Arizona beats Washington this weekend, it will go a long way toward the ‘Cats entering the top-25 polls. A 4-1 record and a 2-0 mark in the Pacific 10 Conference would be impressive, but unfortunately, it won’t be enough to get them there immediately.

And that’s not a shot at Arizona’s reputation, but rather a reflection of recent events and how top-heavy college football is this year.

Look at what kind of weight a win over the Huskies would carry. Yes, Washington has drastically improved from last year, and yes, it did beat USC when the Trojans were ranked in the top five. But since then they’ve lost two straight and have a mediocre 2-3 record.

If Arizona wins this game, it would be the second team to defeat the Huskies and enhance its record to 4-1 this season. The last team to do so was Notre Dame, which beat Washington with an overtime touchdown in South Bend, Ind. Like Arizona, the Fighting Irish’s lone loss this season was to a Big Ten Conference team, Michigan, and all of their victories have come in close, less-than-convincing fashion.

Teams like the Wildcats don’t care how they get the “”W,”” but the voters for the national polls do — that’s why Notre Dame and Arizona have been left out of the polls thus far.

Then there’s the rest of the country. The bottom third of the top 25 is pretty stacked. What really sticks out is how low Auburn and South Carolina are ranked. The No. 18 Tigers are 5-0 with wins over West Virginia and Tennessee, and the No. 25 Gamecocks are 4-1 and just beat Ole Miss, which at the time of that game was ranked No. 4.

Arizona faces an uphill battle when it comes to breaking into the top 25, including competition from unranked teams like the Pac-10-leading Stanford Cardinal and undefeated Wisconsin Badgers.

Now, the Wildcats have won every game they should have won, but dropped their most difficult game against Iowa. Arizona has no reason to be even remotely disappointed with its 3-1 record, but a victory over Iowa would have certainly put it in the top-25 conversation.

The truth is that none of this actually matters to the Wildcats right now. Their biggest focus is to win each weekend and let the rankings take care of themselves.

At this point, the significance of a win for Arizona would be that of another conference victory, not a national statement.

—Tim Kosch


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