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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“What “”GameDay”” means to Tucson”

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Football fever has snuck up on the city of Tucson this season faster than anyone could have realistically predicted. For almost 10 years Arizona football was unknown, wallowing listlessly at the bottom of the Pacific 10 Conference and slipping further and further into the shadow of Arizona basketball.

But lately Arizona football has experienced a number of firsts. Lasts season the Wildcats won their fist bowl game since 1998, defeating Brigham Young University in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl. This season Arizona is on the hunt for its first Rose Bowl, and for the first time ever ESPN’s “”College GameDay”” will be on campus.

Quite honestly, the city, the campus, and the team are electric.

“”Of course we’re excited,”” senior wide receiver Terrell Turner said when asked about “”GameDay”” coming to Tucson. “”As a little kid you grow up watching all these amazing college players playing on ESPN and ABC and making big plays, you just want to be in that position. It’s like a dream come true.””

In the past, the thought of “”GameDay”” coming to Tucson was just that — nothing more than a dream.

“”I dreamed of it, but I never thought it’d happen,”” said senior halfback Chris Gronkowski.

First off, Arizona has never been nationally recognized for its football program. Even when the Wildcats turned it around last season and snapped their bowl-less streak, the football team took a back seat to Lute Olson’s retirement and the men’s basketball team’s miraculous run to the Sweet 16.

And despite the bowl victory, Arizona failed to finish in any national poll and was in the middle of the Pac-10, leaving the Las Vegas Bowl championship title feeling a little empty.

But here the Wildcats are, heading into their 10th game of the season and still very much alive in the Rose Bowl picture. Arizona’s scenario is simple: win its last three games against Oregon, ASU and USC.

Easier said than done, especially after laying an egg against California last week. But nothing is impossible. The Wildcats’ most challenging contest to date is this week’s matchup against the Ducks, but the team could benefit from the “”GameDay”” experience and what effect it will have on its already rabid student section.

“”I think it’s great for our university, it’s great for our football program and it’s great for our fans,”” head coach Mike Stoops said.

“”I think it brings some enthusiasm to the stadium, and we’re going to need a lot of help (against Oregon),”” Stoops added. “”I think our fans have always supported us in a very strong way, and I look forward to it being a very entertaining night and day.””

The Zona Zoo, home of 10,000 UA students each game at Arizona Stadium, is notoriously loud and disruptive. Some of its members have already started making plans for the game and for making a statement on “”GameDay””. Arizona Stadium will be a sea of red on Saturday as the Zona Zoo and the rest of the stands will be donning red shirts and violently spinning red towels.

It will certainly help Arizona in its quest for an upset against No. 11 Oregon, and the Wildcats will take every advantage they can find, including a bit of a history lesson. The last time Oregon visited Arizona Stadium in 2007, it was the No. 2 team in the country, but fell in stunning fashion to unranked Arizona.

Will history repeat itself? Will Rose Bowl history be created? Arizona’s path to the Rose Bowl starts on Saturday, and “”GameDay”” will be there to show the nation the Wildcat’s first step to achieving that goal.

— Follow College GameDay on Twitter: “”GameDayFootball””


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