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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pac-12 football rankings: Arizona’s downfall started at Stanford

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Patrick Tehan
Stanford’s Kelsey Young (39) is pursued by Arizona defenders on a touchdown run in the third quarter at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California, Saturday, October 6, 2012. Stanford defeated Arizona in overtime, 54-48. (Patrick Tehan/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)

When Stanford’s running back Stepfan Taylor jogged untouched into the endzone to complete a comeback on Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif. and hand Arizona its third straight heartbreaking loss, the Wildcats fell to an ugly 0-3 in the conference.

Arizona’s opening slate of Pac-12 games have been anything but easy — in fact its come up against the top three teams in the conference power rankings.

But the strength of schedule doesn’t erase the meager conference record. Also, these Pac-12 struggles are anything but new for the Wildcats, and it all dates back to their last trip to Palo Alto in 2010.

The then-No. 13 Wildcats traveled to take on Andrew Luck and then-No. 10 Stanford on Nov. 6. The Cardinal blew Arizona out 42-17 as a Taylor destroyed the Wildcats with four rushing scores. Ever since then the Wildcats have been dismal in conference play.

Since that first loss in Palo Alto, Arizona has only one two of its 16 conference games. The 2-14 record is the worst of any Pac-12 schools, narrowly edging out Washington State by one game.

It’s even fewer wins than Colorado and Utah — and they both passed the three-win plateau with five fewer Pac-12 games at their disposal.

While some of the defeats have been close — five have come by a touchdown or less — Arizona has been outscored by an average of more than 11 points per game. It also hasn’t beaten a team from the North Division since the 44-14 Homecoming victory against Washington in 2010.

For a program whose goal is to finally make the Rose Bowl, a feat Arizona’s never achieved, a .125 winning percentage in conference isn’t going to get it done.

Even with the South Division having opened up (since the majority of top teams hail from the North this year) Arizona needs almost a perfect finish to have any shot at the Pac-12 championship game.
Qualifying with three losses isn’t inconceivable though — a four loss UCLA team made it last year. But this time around USC isn’t on probation.

Still, the Trojans looked vulnerable in their Thursday night match against Utah, trailing early on by two touchdowns. USC eventually turned it on in the second quarter, scoring 28 unanswered points thanks to a huge game by receiver Marqise Lee. The wideout had 192 of the team’s 303 total receiving yards and also added a score.

Arizona and USC play in three weeks, but the Trojans only have one loss in conference and would still have to lose to be passed, even if the Wildcats manage to pull off the huge upset.

The South Division’s other contender, UCLA, took a huge blow after being destroyed by a struggling Cal team 43-17. The Bruins had six turnovers in the game and were outscored 40-10 in the final three quarters against a Cal side that entered the game with one win — and it came against FCS Southern Utah.

But neither team is leading the South Division.

The top dog right now is Arizona State (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12), and after a bye last week and a game against a futile Colorado squad, the Sun Devils seem destined to remain on top until they face No. 2 Oregon at home on Oct. 18.

The Stanford loss in 2010 ruined Arizona’s shot at the Pac-12 title in addition to starting the stretch of ugly conference play. With the Wildcats now in a 0-3 pit, it looks like the overtime thriller on Saturday managed to prolong the losing pattern.

1. No. 2 Oregon (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) Last week: 1
Last Game: (W 52-21 against No. 23 Washington)
This Week: Bye

2. No. 10 Oregon State (4-0, 3-0) LW: 2
Last Game: (W 19-6 against Washington State)
This Week: at BYU

3. No. 17 Stanford (4-1, 2-1) LW: 3
Last Game: (W 54-48 against Arizona)
This Week: at No. 7 Notre Dame

4. No. 11 USC (4-1, 2-1) LW: 4
Last Game: (W 38-28 at Utah)
This Week: at Washington

5. Washington (3-2, 1-1) LW: 5
Last Game: (L 52-21 at No. 2 Oregon)
This Week: against No. 11 USC

6. Arizona State (4-1, 2-0) LW: 7
Last Week: Bye
This Week: at Colorado

7. UCLA (4-2, 1-2) LW: 6
Last Game: (L 43-17 at Cal)
This Week: against Utah

8. Arizona (3-3, 0-3) LW: 8
Last Game: (L 54-48 OT at No. 18 Stanford)
This week: Bye

9. California (2-4, 1-2) LW: 10
Last Game: (W 43-17 at No. 25 UCLA)
This Week: at Washington State

10. Utah (2-3, 0-2) LW: 9
Last Game: (L 38-28 against No. 13 USC)
This Week: at UCLA

11. Washington State (2-4, 0-3) LW: 12
Last Game: (L 19-6 at No. 14 Oregon State)
This Week: against Cal

12. Colorado (1-4, 1-1) LW: 11
Last Week: Bye
This Week: against Arizona State

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