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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


On a different level

For a second, I thought it was 2005.

On a smaller scale, the differences between Arizona and Southern California on Saturday were vast. The Wildcats were ranked, the Trojans were not. Arizona is on its way to a bowl game, USC isn’t allowed to participate in one.

What did the Wildcats have to play for? Everything. The Trojans? Nothing.

Yet from the opening gun on Saturday at Arizona Stadium, USC played like it was in contention for all those national titles we saw them win a few years ago while Arizona seemed too confused and unfocused to even know what play it was running on defense.

The Trojans ran through and around the Wildcats’ defense, en route to a methodical and calculated pounding that did nothing but reinforce that, despite the current circumstances, the difference between the two programs is as wide in the time of possession differential.

Bigger picture? USC is not dead, rather slowly perfecting its craft before it explodes onto the national title scene when it becomes eligible, and Arizona isn’t among the Pacific 10 Conference’s elite yet, instead still muddling through several small issues that have compounded in the last few weeks.

It’s been a perfect (imperfect?) storm for the Wildcats in the last two weeks against Stanford and now USC. A team that found ways to win games it shouldn’t have and overcame insufficiencies to start the season 7-1 is now in serious jeopardy of finishing 7-5.

It sounds crazy, but think about it. Even with the stinker against Cal, Oregon is still the best team in the country. Barring a bad shipment of turkey being sent to Eugene, Ore., it’s safe to assume the Ducks won’t lose their day after Thanksgiving game against Arizona.

The Wildcats will be favored against ASU, but if anyone has seen the Sun Devils play, they’ll be able to tell you that their record is not indicative of their skill.

If the Wildcats want a quick fix, something will need to be done about the defense. The concerns from the coaches during the summer about the unit have come to fruition after a torrid start is proving more and more to be an aberration.

Some wish list items: a playmaker in the secondary, defensive tackles that control the line of scrimmage and a better kicking game. Obviously, I know the kicking game isn’t part of the defense, but the deficiencies there are so obvious that the Zendejas restaurant across the street from Arizona Stadium should consider giving away free margaritas after games.

We’ve seen the Wildcats win games they weren’t supposed to in the past few years, so no one should rule them out, but the Wildcats continued to show what they’ve been trying to tell us for weeks.

They just aren’t ready.

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