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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona football set up for huge matchup with Utah


Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez grins after Casey Skowron’s game-winning kick during Arizona’s 27-26 win against Washington on Nov. 15 at Arizona Stadium. The Wildcats won their ninth game of the season on Saturday, preserving the team’s Pac-12 title game hopes.

Arizona football will try to keep its Pac-12 Conference South championship hopes alive in its final road game of the season, in the cold of Utah. The No. 15/15 Wildcats (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) face No. 17/20 Utah (7-3, 4-3) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“They do a good job, and the coaching staff does a great job,” UA football head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “With the elements and everything else we are going into, it may be our biggest challenge this year.”

Utah leads the nation in total sacks (47) and sacks per game (4.70). Utah defensive end Nate Orchard is first in the nation in sacks per game (1.65) and total sacks (16.5).

“Right now, we’re just trying to focus on the Utah game coming up this weekend,” UA offensive lineman Mickey Baucus said. “We need a little help to win the South, but if we don’t win the rest of our games, it doesn’t even matter.”

Make it rain

As of Thursday morning, the forecast for Salt Lake City, Utah, is a high of 41, 10-20 mph wind and a 90-percent chance of rain.

“I lived in it for a while, and I never got used to it,” Rodriguez said. “People say that it is football weather, and I think that football weather is when it is nice and sunny outside.”

Rodriguez said few of the Wildcats have experience playing in that kind of weather, not including the coaches.

“It’s going to be bad for both teams, and it’s how you prepare for it,” Rodriguez said. “We will do the best we can, and I hope our guys’ mental and physical toughness will help them overcome it.”

Arizona won its last cold weather game, the Advocare V100 Bowl 42-19 over Boston College and its last rain game 42-16 over Oregon, but both were last season.

What’s a Ute?

It’s not clear who UA President Ann Weaver Hart will be rooting for on Saturday, but she’ll definitely be wearing red.

Hart is among a few other notable Utah alumni: Kansas City Chief quarterback Alex Smith, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee, Stephen Covey — author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” — and Nolan Bushnell, co-founder of Atari and inventor of Pong.

Utah’s team was originally called the Redskins interchangeably until they changed to just the Utes in 1972. The Utes are a Great Basin tribe, and the Ute Tribal Council gives Utah permission to use their name.

Utah’s student section is called the “MUSS,” short for “Mighty Utah Student Section,” which comes from a part of their fight song: “No other gang of college men dare meet us in the muss.”

Utah also has a “U” mountain, called “The Block U.”


Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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