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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Wildcats polar opposite from a year ago

Andrew Tat

Courtesy of Andrew Tat/UW Daily

A Washington defender sacks Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon (12) at Husky Stadium in Seattle on Saturday, Oct. 31. Solomon threw his first two interceptions of the season and accumulated just 160 yards in the Wildcats’ dismal loss to the Huskies on Saturday.

To say Saturday was a rough go for Arizona football would be putting it lightly. Saturday was a travesty.

Washington (4-4, 2-3 Pac-12 Conference) destroyed Arizona (5-4, 2-4) in Seattle. It was the Wildcats’ third blowout loss of the season as they were dominated in all aspects of the game.

This loss to the Huskies creates a troubling situation for Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez and company. With only five wins, Arizona needs one more at the very minimum to qualify for bowl eligibility. Teams must have a winning record to earn a bid, or teams at 6-6 (.500) can receive a bid if all FBS teams with a winning record have been selected to bowls.

Unfortunately, the chances of Arizona getting that sixth win are bleak.

“Last week and this week, this was as disappointed as I’ve ever been probably,” Rodriguez said following Saturday’s loss.

The Wildcats will travel to Los Angeles on Saturday to square off against a talented USC squad that seems to have regained its footing since the Steve Sarkisian debacle.

Arizona will then face the task of No. 13 Utah, as the Utes travel to Tucson for the Wildcats’ final home game of the season. Utah is arguably the best team in the Pac-12 South, with its one loss coming against USC.

The Wildcats will then head up to Tempe to take on ASU for the Territorial Cup and what could be a must-win scenario. Arizona lost 58-21 in its last trip up north.

It is not impossible for the Wildcats to earn a bid to a bowl game. If anything, that should be the goal right now. Arizona should play like a team with nothing to lose, because frankly, that’s exactly what it is.

No wins means no bowl games. Time to put everything on the line and play for some pride.

“It’s football,” said Arizona safety Will Parks. “Things happen. Things go south but it’s up to us to make it go north.”

The sad thing about this year’s team is they are the polar opposite of the team from a year ago. Everything went the Wildcats’ way last year. They weren’t blown out by top-25 teams week in and week out; Arizona beat them—see Oregon, Utah and ASU.

This year, teams like UCLA, Stanford and now Washington made quick work of the Wildcats.

Last year, Arizona pulled out a trick play and a game winning field goal to make Casey Skowron a school hero against a Washington team that boasted three first-round draft picks on its defense.

This year, Washington demolished the Wildcats.

Arizona’s defense currently sits at No. 120 out of 128 teams in the FBS in total yards allowed. The defense has hovered around this ranking all season, failing to create pressure or stop any form of air attack that other teams have thrown its way.

Last year, they weren’t perfect. But with a healthy Scooby Wright III leading the defense, Arizona managed to create exciting turnovers and force pressure on quarterbacks that kept them in games.

Wright became one of the best defensive players in the country. The Wildcats’ offense rewarded their defense by scoring frequently and putting them in a place to win.

“[Washington] did whatever they wanted on offense and special teams,” Rodriguez said of the Huskies on Saturday night. “It’s pretty disappointing. … That’s us. We’ve [got to] call plays we can execute and try to get guys in the spots and then, when we get them there, hope they make a play.”

Maybe it is the injuries that have plagued Arizona since training camp. Maybe it is the 12 straight games with no bye week and 8 p.m. start times that tire out the players and staff. Maybe this team has no drive to be at that same level, even though plenty of players from last year’s team returned.

While many excuses could be brought forward to explain this difficult season, the Wildcats have one redeeming quality: They sure know how to surprise us.

It’s going to be tough, but don’t quit on these guys just yet. With three weeks to go in this crazy college football season, these Wildcats may still surprise us yet and earn a bid for the upcoming bowl season.

Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.

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