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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Many more big wins to come for Rich Rodriguez

Ryan+Revock+%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUA+senior+quarterback+B.J.+Denker+breaks+through+Oregon+defenders+on+Saturday+at+Arizona+Stadium.++
Ryan Revock
Ryan Revock / The Daily Wildcat UA senior quarterback B.J. Denker breaks through Oregon defenders on Saturday at Arizona Stadium.

In the hallway that Arizona football uses to enter the field in the new Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, there are pictures of the great Arizona wins.

Monuments to Arizona victories like No. 1 Washington in 1992, No. 2 Oregon in 2007 and No. 9 USC in 2012 are on display. Junior running back Ka’Deem Carey wanted a new one.

“When you step into this facility, you walk down and you see upsets on the walls: You have USC from last year, you have Oregon from a couple years back and we don’t have one this year,” Carey said. “So, I’m looking around and like, ‘We’ve got to leave this season with a positive — with an upset. Let’s make history.’”

Led by Carey, who rushed for 208 yards, Arizona earned a new display with a 42-16 upset of No. 5 Oregon.

“We’re going to have a picture up, and it’s going to be a big upset. And, hopefully, I’m out there smiling and everybody that made plays [Saturday] is up there,” Carey said.

Yes, Arizona beat USC last year, a popular preseason No. 1 pick, but the Trojans finished 7-6 in 2012 and lost to a 6-7 Georgia Tech team in the Sun Bowl. This year, Oregon is so good that its players were complaining about potentially having to go to the Rose Bowl.

“I don’t want to play in a Rose Bowl unless I’m playing for a national championship,” UO wide receiver Josh Huff said last week.

This win is bigger.

“It’s a great feeling,” senior quarterback B.J. Denker said. “This is a crazy win for our program, our coaching staff, the seniors and the players. Everything went right [Saturday].”

Denker completed 19 of 22 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 102 yards on 14 carries. He out-Oregoned the mighty Ducks.

The Hot Rod Offense blew past the Blur Offense. Of course, the Arizona defense had a say in making the Oregon offense look average. The Wildcats forced three turnovers and held the vaunted Duck offense — which is third in the country even after the loss and scores 50.9 points a game — to 16 points.

The quarterback and defense were supposed to be weaknesses. Head coach Rich Rodriguez has won 15 games in his first two seasons at Arizona. He won 15 in three full years in Michigan, and it wasn’t until his third year at West Virginia that he got his 15th win.

Remember, Rodriguez inherited a program that had lost 10 in a row to FBS teams in 2010-2011. This could be the start of something big.

Next season, Arizona will be loaded, having picked up transfers from Texas and Notre Dame, in addition to Austin Hill — the Wildcats’ leading receiver in 2012 — deciding to stay at the UA, rather than enter the NFL Draft.

On Saturday, Rodriguez talked to recruits in the locker room and over Skype. Perhaps Arizona is not that far from being the team that other fans storm the field for after they win.

“I hope they feel like we do — that there’s a lot of positive things going on here at the U of A,” Rodriguez said. “And I hope they jump on for the ride because this is a great win, no question about it, and [it] let us feel good for a while and it’s great for our fans … but we’re not even close to where we’re going to be in the future.”

—Follow James Kelley @JamesKelley520

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