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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cats trying to climb in Pac-10

    UA running back Keola Antolin leaps over Oregons defensive line and into the end zone during the fourth quarter of a 55-45 Arizona loss at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. The Wildcats take on Oregon State tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Arizona Stadium with a chance to improve their bowl standing and derail the Beavers Rose Bowl hopes.
    UA running back Keola Antolin leaps over Oregon’s defensive line and into the end zone during the fourth quarter of a 55-45 Arizona loss at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. The Wildcats take on Oregon State tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Arizona Stadium with a chance to improve their bowl standing and derail the Beavers’ Rose Bowl hopes.

    When members of the Arizona football team stroll through the corridor of McKale Center each week, whether it’s to work out or to engage in team functions, they walk past the same sign.

    In the midst of the players of the week pictures, the sign reads, “”What have you done today to win the Pac-10?””

    With only two games remaining on its schedule, Arizona can no longer win the conference, but it still has a shot at mixing things up in the Pac-10 race.

    Just two conference wins away from a Pac-10 title and a trip to the Rose Bowl, No. 21 Oregon State still has a few tests to pass before punching its ticket to Pasadena, Calif., and it all starts Saturday at 5 p.m., when the Beavers take on the Wildcats in Arizona Stadium.

    While some could argue the game means far more to the Beavers, don’t tell that to an Arizona squad coming off an embarrassing loss to Oregon, in which the Wildcats allowed 45 points and 411 total yards in the first half.

    “”There are a lot of implications on this game for (Oregon State), but there are also a lot of implications on this game for us,”” said defensive back Nate Ness. “”We have to win out. This is a must-win game, and I will say it again: This is a must-win game.””

    Currently tied for fourth place in the conference with California, Arizona still controls its own destiny of finishing third in the conference, which has a tie-in with the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on Dec. 31.

    The question of whether the Wildcats were satisfied with a bowl berth was raised following the loss to the Ducks in Eugene last week, and the players were almost offended by the notion.

    Especially the seniors.

    “”I hope not. Definitely not in my mind,”” said senior linebacker Ronnie Palmer. “”I know as seniors, our vision and our goal is far, far higher than six wins and a weak bowl game.””

    But if the Wildcats hope to improve their bowl position, Arizona will have to pull off yet another upset in November, something it has become accustomed to under head coach Mike Stoops.

    Not all the members of the Wildcats look at it as a big mismatch, but given that Arizona has beat highly ranked teams each of the last four seasons in November, it should be back to work as usual for the squad.

    “”We are going to have to play on edge, because Oregon State is an excellent football team that knows what they’re doing and knows how to attack you,”” Stoops said. “”We are going to have to play a whole lot better than we did to start the game last week.””

    The upsets began in 2004 with a win over No. 18 ASU. Then they turned into major upsets with a top-10 team in each of the following three years, including a win over then-No. 2 Oregon last year, which knocked the Ducks off the track for the national title game.

    While the Wildcats were once seen as the favorite against the Beavers at home, Oregon State’s resurgence as a program has flipped the script, given that the squad is on track to make its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1965.

    But the Wildcats would like nothing better than to knock the Beavers off-track and set themselves up for a better bowl game.

    “”This game is huge, and really that’s how we have been looking at it. Every game is huge,”” said UA quarterback Willie Tuitama. “”If we keep winning, then we will pretty much determine where we go.””

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