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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Focus will be key in Arizona’s matchup with South Carolina State

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Gordan Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

It’s one thing preparing for a ranked team like Oklahoma State, but this weekend No. 24 Arizona faces a different type of challenge: staying focused.

Before the meetings with then-No. 16 OSU and No. 4 Oregon on Sept. 22 sits Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. home game at Arizona Stadium against FCS South Carolina State, which will be more of a maturity test than on-field ability.

“I keep it one game at a time. I never try to overlook an opponent because that’s when bad things happen,” junior safety Marquis Flowers said. “This year I know at least seven teams like South Carolina State have beaten an [FBS] team, so it’s definitely possible.”

“[South Carolina State has] good athletes on their team so we’re going to come out, execute and play hard, and we’ll worry about [Oregon] after the game,” Flowers added.

In fact, the number of FCS upsets now totals eight this year, after UA in-state rival and FCS member NAU beat University of Nevada, Las Vegas 17-14 last Saturday night.

Most of the FCS victories came against weaker schools, such as Eastern Washington’s 20-3 humiliation of Idaho. Pittsburgh lost to Youngstown State in its season opener, 31-17.

Still, the Pac-12’s Colorado, the same team that beat Oregon State in 2011, lost 30-28 to Sacramento State Saturday.

“[FCS teams] come at you. They’re not scared of anybody,” junior linebacker Jake Fischer said. “They see it like they can upset a big [FBS] school and a lot of those teams can. They have the players that can do it, the schemes to do it.”

Arizona has managed to avoid the embarrassing defeat so far, with a perfect 8-0 record against FCS teams since 2002.

But the Wildcats have had their fair share of scares, including last season when they only led NAU 14-10 at halftime.

“We ain’t going to take any team lightly … we’re going to take them like Oklahoma State,” sophomore running back Ka’Deem Carey said.

“We can’t look down, we can’t look up, but we just need to go forward, execute our plays and do what we have to do.”

Arizona eventually played well against the Lumberjacks last season and comfortably won 41-10, but the trap of playing to an opponent’s talent level is always a factor in these matchups.

“I don’t want a big dude coming at me and I go halfway and get de-cleated,” Carey said. “I’m not looking at it [like they’re a lesser team]. I look at every team the same.”

While the Wildcats haven’t had any barnburners against FCS teams this past decade, as their 52-6 shellacking of the Citadel in 2011 can attest to, the games are typically closer than one might expect.

Arizona’s margin of victory is just slightly more than 25 points, and even though that’s a comfortable margin by any means, a few turnovers and a couple big plays could turn an easy win into a dogfight.

“I remember that [the Citadel] came after us pretty good,” said Fischer, who missed last year’s game against NAU with an injury.

“There were maybe one or two drives where they got to us, but after that, we held them pretty solid … We’re just hoping to do the same this weekend.”

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