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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Schedule breakdown

Toledo

2009: 5-7 (X-X MAC)

Key players: Eric Page, WR/KR; Archie Donald, LB; Dan Molls, LB

The skinny: Toledo ranked 116th in the nation last year in scoring defense, giving up an astounding 37.7 points per game.

Arizona will win if: It stays focused. Playing Toledo on the road could provide an initial challenge, but ultimately the Wildcats should win with ease.

The Citadel

2009: 4-7 (2-6 Southern Conference)

Key players: Cortez Allen, DB; Alex Sellars, TE

The skinny: The Citadel, an FCS school, was predicted to finish eighth in the Southern Conference preseason coaches poll.

Arizona will win if: It steps onto the field.

Iowa Hawkeyes

2009: 11-2 (6-2 Big Ten), defeated Georgia Tech 24-14 in Orange Bowl

Key players: Adrian Clayborn, DE; Tyler Sash, SS; Ricky Stanzi, QB

The skinny: The Hawkeyes boast one of the nation’s toughest, most fundamentally sound defenses that stuffs the run with ease and flusters opposing QBs.

Arizona will win if: Quarterback Nick Foles can spread the ball around on quick passes and limit turnovers.

California

2009: 8-5 (5-4 Pac-10), lost to Utah 37-27 in Poinsettia Bowl

Key players: Shane Vereen, RB; Mike Mohamed, LB; Marvin Jones, WR

The skinny: Cal has minimal preseason expectations for the first time in recent memory, but the Bears still have game-breaking talent on both sides of the ball and could surprise some teams.

Arizona will win if: It shuts down Vereen and make quarterback Kevin Riley beat it.

Oregon State

2009: 8-5 (6-3 Pac-10), lost to BYU 44-20 in Las Vegas Bowl

Key players: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB; James Rodgers, WR/KR; Stephen Paea, DT

The skinny: The Beavers have to break in a new quarterback but having the dynamic Rodgers brothers around him should make that an easy transition.

Arizona will win if: The offense stays consistent and the defense shuts down quarterback Ryan Katz — “”stopping”” either Rodgers brother is nearly impossible.

Washington State

2009: 1-11 (0-9 Pac-10)

Key players: Jeff Tuel, QB; Jared Karstetter, WR; Kevin Kooyman, DE

The skinny: Another year of competitive balance in the Pac-10 means another difficult season in Pullman, Wash.

Arizona will win if: It steps on the field.

Washington

2009: 5-7 (4-5 Pac-10)

Key players: Jake Locker, QB; Jermaine Kearse, WR; Mason Foster; LB

The skinny: The first year of the Steve Sarkisian era got off to a flying start but the Huskies came back to earth in the second half. Year two, especially with Jake Locker back under center and 19 returning starters, should result in a bowl bid.

Arizona will win if: DE’s Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore keep Locker in the pocket, and if an interception doesn’t bounce off of a Wildcat’s heel.

UCLA

2009: 7-6 (3-6 Pac-10), defeated Temple 30-21 in EagleBank Bowl

Key players: Rahim Moore, FS; Akeem Ayers, LB; Taylor Embree, WR

The skinny: UCLA has a lot of individual talent on both sides of the ball but the Bruins have yet to find consistency under Rick Neuheisel. The Bruins could surprise people and have a great season or could struggle from the start.

Arizona will win if: It plays smart on offense. Rahim Moore is a ballhawk and can change a game at a moment’s notice.

Stanford

2009: 8-5 (6-3 Pac-10), lost to Oklahoma

31-27 in Sun Bowl

Key players: Andrew Luck, QB; Ryan Whalen, WR; Owen Marecic, FB/LB

The skinny: Stanford is the trendy pick to win the Pac-10 this season thanks to a strong finish in 2009 and up-and-coming quarterback Andrew Luck. The Cardinal has a lot of work to do on defense, however.

Arizona will win if: It plays the way it did against Stanford last season — give up points at will but make big offensive plays when it matters.

USC

2009: 9-4 (5-4 Pac-10), defeated Boston College 24-13 in Emerald Bowl

Key players: Matt Barkley, QB; Marc Tyler, RB; Kris O’Dowd, C

The skinny: Just because USC isn’t eligible to play in a bowl doesn’t mean it won’t try to win every week — and with all the talent the Trojans have, it has a great chance to do just that.

Arizona will win if: It watches the 2009 tape: ball control, steady defense, constant composure.

Oregon

2009: 10-3 (8-1 Pac-10), lost to Ohio State 26-17 in Rose Bowl

Key players: LaMichael James, RB; Jeff Maehl, WR; Casey Matthews, LB

The skinny: The Ducks were a surefire bet to reach the Rose Bowl in 2010 once the 2009 season ended, but the dismissal of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli undoubtedly hurts Oregon’s chances. There’s still a ton of talent on this team though.

Arizona will win if: It can make one key defensive stop. That was all that kept the Wildcats from beating Oregon last year.

ASU

2009: 4-8 (2-7 Pac-10)

Key players: Vontaze Burfict, LB; Lawrence Guy, DT; Omar Bolden, CB

The skinny: The offense killed the Sun Devils’ chances in 2009 and 2010 doesn’t look to be any better, but that defense is tough to penetrate. Don’t be surprised if ASU pulls off a major upset or two.

Arizona will win if: It successfully takes shots downfield. It’ll be tough to run on that front seven.

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