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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Holiday a welcome break

    UA wide receiver Mike Thomas stretches past the goal line for one of his two touchdowns in a 34-24 win over then-No. 2 Oregon on Thursday night at Arizona Stadium.
    UA wide receiver Mike Thomas stretches past the goal line for one of his two touchdowns in a 34-24 win over then-No. 2 Oregon on Thursday night at Arizona Stadium.

    As the season progresses for the Arizona football team, it continues to look more and more like a reflection of last year.

    In both seasons, the Wildcats started off slow but rebounded with three-game winning streaks in November to put themselves back into the bowl picture, contingent on the results of their last game against ASU.

    But there is one major difference in the Wildcats’ schedule this year leading into their date with the No. 6 Sun Devils on Dec. 1: The Wildcats have Thanksgiving off.

    “”Right now our destiny lies in our own hands,”” said quarterback Willie Tuitama. “”Last year we went through a loss, and that one kind of hurt a little more because of what could have happened.””

    Riding the momentum of a three-game winning streak without a bye week wasn’t enough for the Wildcats (5-6, 4-4 Pacific 10 Conference) to overcome ASU last season – the already bowl-eligible Arizona fell 28-14 in Tucson – while ending any hopes of a postseason appearance.

    “”I think the extra time helped us a great deal (with Oregon),”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said. “”We need to use the time the same way with Arizona State.

    “”We didn’t have this break last year. We came in off that three-game run and obviously didn’t react very well.””

    Though it seems only logical that the extra time the Wildcats possess would be spent on studying film of the Sun Devils and preparing for the collection of weapons the ASU attack features, that just isn’t the case.

    As UA students head home for Thanksgiving to visit with family, watch football and eat turkey, the Wildcats will follow suit.

    “”I am just going to shoot home for a minute, spend some time with the family, eat a little bird and watch that pigskin,”” said wide receiver Mike Thomas. “”It is good for people to get home, see their families and relax a little bit and get your mind off of football.””

    The Wildcats have a head start on the preparation for the annual Territorial Cup, as they started to incorporate ASU into their practice routine yesterday.

    Meanwhile, the Sun Devils are busy preparing for arguably one of the toughest games on their schedule, a matchup with No. 11 USC on Thanksgiving Day.

    “”ASU has to play a really tough game on Thursday, so we will have more time to prepare and that is definitely our benefit,”” said linebacker Spencer Larsen.

    Last year the Wildcats got caught up in all the publicity surrounding the game, as they dwelled on the possibility of making their first bowl game since 1998, which caused them to play tight and eventually led to their demise.

    This year there’s a lot on the line for both squads.

    The Wildcats are still fighting for a postseason berth that was thought to have been highly improbable just weeks ago, while ASU controls its own destiny to a Pac-10 championship and a Rose Bowl bid.

    Larsen said the Wildcats will focus on the game and not worry about the surrounding implications.

    “”We went in and didn’t play well when they came in here, and we had a lot riding on that game (last year),”” Larsen said. “”Hopefully we can just relax, and play well, and act like it’s another game and not get caught up in all the hype like we did last year.””

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