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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Welcome to the party, Wildcats”

Gordon+Bates+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUA+Wildcats+victory+over+Iowa+Hawks+Football+at+Arizona+Stadium+Saturday+Sept+18.
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Wildcats victory over Iowa Hawks Football at Arizona Stadium Saturday Sept 18.

It’s difficult to sum up everything that happened at Arizona Stadium on Saturday night. The Wildcats upset the then-No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes, which in and of itself is impressive, but the way they went about it really said something about the state of the program.

That one game was a small, 60-minute embodiment of everything the program has been through over the past decade.

Going into the game, Arizona knew it needed to get off to a fast start to have a chance, and it did just that by jumping out to a 14-0 lead while only having 13 yards of offense and then pushing that lead to a 27-7 lead at the half.

The first half could not have gone better for Arizona — it was the highest of highs. It was like the 2005 upset of then-No. 7 UCLA, the 2007 upset of then-No. 2 Oregon and the 2009 win over USC to send Arizona to the Holiday Bowl.

The blocked punt, Trevin Wade’s right place, right time pick-six, Travis Cobb’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown — the stars were all aligned in Tucson.

But then the second half could not have gone worse for Arizona — it was the lowest of the lows. It was like the 2007 losses to New Mexico and Stanford, the 2009 Holiday Bowl loss and the countless weeks of frustrating football that mired the beginning of head coach Mike Stoops’ coaching tenure at Arizona.

The dropped punt by William “”Bug”” Wright, Iowa’s Broderick Binns right place, right time pick-six, The Wildcats’ 12 penalties — suddenly the stars couldn’t even be seen in the normally clear Tucson sky.

But then quarterback Nick Foles led a touchdown drive that could not only turn him into the national star that he can be but Arizona into the national powerhouse that it can be.

After Arizona’s 19-6 victory over Central Michigan in 2009, then-offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes summed up the victory-amidst-the-turmoil game by saying, “”The thing that I’m proud of is that two years ago this is a game we probably would have lost.””

This game had that feel, too.

All of Arizona Stadium’s capacity crowd was on pins and needles while the game started to slip away in a fashion that could only happen to Arizona. ESPN’s cameras seemed to be trained on the reactions of Stoops, who, after a while, retired his angry, frustrated look for a more casual “”can we please catch a break”” smile.

But that Foles-led drive, which was highlighted by an incredible catch by David Roberts, did much more than anything the Wildcats did to preserve the Central Michigan victory. It put the Wildcats on the map against a team that, historically speaking, is better than them, and they did it in front of a national audience on ESPN.

Being ranked No. 14 on the AP Poll and starting the season 3-0 is merely the beginning of a long season, but if the college football gods invited its 15 most worthy guests to a dinner party, Arizona would have a seat at the table.

That’s something that hasn’t been said in Tucson in a long time.

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— Tim Kosch is  journalism senior and the sports editor at the Arizona Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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