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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Roses are red, Arizona looks blue

A+UCLA+player+tackles+UA+wide+receiver+Shawn+Poindexter+during+the+game+on+Saturday%2C+October+20+at+the+Rose+Bowl.+UCLA+defeated+the+cats+with+a+final+score+of+31-30.%26nbsp%3B
Madeleine Viceconte

A UCLA player tackles UA wide receiver Shawn Poindexter during the game on Saturday, October 20 at the Rose Bowl. UCLA defeated the cats with a final score of 31-30. 

LOS ANGELES – If you’re looking at Arizona’s remaining schedule and wondering where the next win is, you’re not alone. 

The Wildcats, who fell to 3-5 on the season after dropping a 31-30 thriller to UCLA at the Rose Bowl, won’t be favored to win any of their next three games (Oregon, Colorado, Washington State) and the Territorial Cup is always a toss-up. 

The only logical conclusion that can be reached after one-point loss to the previously one-win Bruins is this: Arizona won’t make a bowl game in 2018. 

      RELATED: Arizona football loses heartbreaker to UCLA, drops to 3-5

It’s a statement that only few would have been bold enough to say back in August when media outlets around the country had Arizona as a Pac-12 South contender. Now, it’s become the likely reality. 

Quarterback Rhett Rodriquez (4) looks for an open player to pass the ball to during the Arizona v. UCLA game on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Rose Bowl.
Quarterback Rhett Rodriquez (4) looks for an open player to pass the ball to during the Arizona v. UCLA game on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Rose Bowl.

Saturday night’s matchup against UCLA represented Arizona’s best chance to make a second-half push to become bowl-eligible, but instead the Wildcats let that opportunity slip through their grasp. 

The inconsistencies that plagued the Wildcats in early September reared their head again as a slow offensive start and a defense that couldn’t make a stop on third down in the second half proved to be fatal in one of college football’s most historic venues. 

Rhett Rodriguez turned in a valiant effort as the Wildcats’ quarterback in his first career start, but two interceptions and several drives that stalled in UCLA territory – which brought on the field goal unit – prevented the Wildcats from erasing a 10-point halftime deficit.

       RELATED: Untimely play-calling the thorn in Arizona’s side at Rose Bowl

And the defense failed to get off the field in the most crucial situations once again, allowing the Bruins to convert 8-18 third-down attempts, despite racking up a season-high four sacks and 12 tackles for a loss. 

In the end, the game was a microcosm of Arizona’s season: a team that showed flashes of potential but the offensive and defensive flashes couldn’t sync up. 

With two-thirds of the season in the books, the sun is setting on Arizona’s season and there’s a cloud that’ll prevent fans from enjoying the conclusion of the season. The next three opponents have a combined win-loss record of 16-5. And as mentioned, the season-ending matchup against ASU could go either way. 

Arizona's J.J. Taylor (21) gets the ball knocked out of his hands during the second quarter of the Arizona-UCLA game at Spieker Field at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.
Arizona’s J.J. Taylor (21) gets the ball knocked out of his hands during the second quarter of the Arizona-UCLA game at Spieker Field at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.

In other words, it will be almost impossible for the Wildcats to rack up three more wins needed to become bowl-eligible. Had Arizona beat UCLA, two more wins would have been doable. Upset an opponent at home and then beat ASU. But winning three of the next four? Don’t count on it.

For a team that was branded as a promising, shiny toy with a new head coach and a star quarterback, neither has lived up to the billing this year. Quarterback Khalil Tate has not been 100 percent, health wise, since early in the Houston game and head coach Kevin Sumlin has been questioned for his use of clock-management and the offense’s struggles.  

Perhaps the expectations came too much too soon for the “New Era” Wildcats as they have looked anything but a team capable of playing a game in December.


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