The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

60° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Show us you’re there

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona meets Arizona State University in an NCAA mens football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2009. Arizona went on to win 20-17.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets Arizona State University in an NCAA men’s football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2009. Arizona went on to win 20-17.

I’ve gotten the sense over the past couple weeks that the UA campus is suffering from a bit of a hangover after Arizona football’s loss to Oregon, and I can’t say I’m surprised.

That game was huge — Rose Bowl chances, upset bid, ABC broadcast, ESPN’s “”College GameDay”” — and it was tiring. Players spent almost five full quarters on the field and fans spent hours on their feet.

The bowl game waiting on the other side of the USC game will be nice and is well deserved, but I don’t think that it really matters.

To be honest, the Wildcats’ date in southern California is the bowl game.

Ask yourself: Which of the following teams would you like to see Arizona beat the most: Oklahoma, Nebraska, BYU, Utah or USC?

Did you even have to think about it?

Beating the Trojans for the first time in head coach Mike Stoops’ tenure would be the final step in the once-endless climb to Pac-10 prominence. Finishing 6-3 in a year where the conference was the best in the nation is a remarkable feat, especially considering most people projected Arizona to have a down year (see: No. 8 in Pac-10 Preseason Standings).

This week’s showdown with USC doesn’t have the same energy that the Oregon game did, but don’t let that fool you — this game is just as big.

But it’s a different kind of big. There’s no Rose Bowl implication, there’s no “”College GameDay””, there won’t even be much media attention considering other teams across the nation will be playing in conference championships, and the game is being played 490 miles away from Arizona Stadium.

There’s no “”Red-out,”” and really there’s no way for the students at Arizona to help the Wildcats in the way that they did against Oregon.

The onus for this game falls squarely on the shoulders of the players. This is their chance to show us that Arizona is for real.

Regardless of the outcome, this season has been a success for the football program. No one realistically expected it to be in contention for the Rose Bowl with three games to play, and I’m not so sure anyone realistically expected it to be in contention for second place in the Pac-10 in the last week of the season.

That’s where it is now. Beat USC and, assuming an expected Oregon State loss to Oregon, finish in a tie for second place.

“”To finish 8-4 here and to have a chance to finish tied for second in this league is really quite amazing,”” defensive coordinator Mark Stoops said.

It’s been an incredible story from the quarterback controversy, weird bounces and further emergence of the Stoops regime as a success, but there’s still a chapter left to be written.

It’s gone from a Cinderella story to a redemption tale. The Wildcats suffered the heartbreak of losing their Rose Bowl dreams, but they still have the opportunity to knock off the Pac-10’s most dominant team of the decade and supplant themselves as a team that has arrived as a conference power.

The win will not be easy. USC has lost more than it has in recent memory and won’t be crowned Pac-10 champs for the first time in seven years, but this is still a darn good team. The Trojans have more NFL talent on their squad than some entire conferences do.

But Arizona has nothing to lose in this game, and the Wildcats should act accordingly.

Beating USC in the last conference game of the season is not a Rose Bowl, I understand that, but winning this game will do so much more for a team that is sick of the “”almost there”” title.

Because if they win, they’ll be there.

 

More to Discover
Activate Search