Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Arizona Wildcats News and Notes

So with traveling, conferences, moving, mold, and work weighing me down, as well as playoff baseball and no cable my college football coverage has slipped drastically over the last couple weeks. It's hard to write a decent Top 25 or Heisman column when I haven't seen any of them play in 2 weeks. Hopefully, next week I'll put together some of the award winning college football coverage you have come to expect. But just because I can't cover the national football scene, doesn't mean my Wildcats don't get any love.

I have been TV and internet less for a while now but that didn't stop me from listening to the 2nd half of the UA - UCLA game a couple weeks ago. Sure the temp apartment I'm in has no radio but my car does. So I sat in my car, in the lovely Tucson heat, sweating and listening to the game. And after a week off and 4 games down it's time to take a look at the Arizona football season thusfar and heading into the meat of the schedule.

So the Cats are 3-1 and could be 4-0. Now there's no room for should-be's in sports so I'm not holding a grudge or thinking that the Cats are being unfairly excluded from the Top 25 picture just yet. The Cats had two ways to come back after that disappointing loss to New Mexico A) Fold and call it a season or 2) come back swinging. I for one am glad they chose the latter and took down a fledgling UCLA team. So with 4 games in the book and 8 (or 9?) games left to play it's time to analyze the first trimester of the season for the Kitty Kats.

Week 1 - Arizona looked amazing against the Vandals. Unfortunately for the Cats that 70-0 thumping was less than impressive, Idaho has gone on to beat Idaho St. and lose to Western Michigan, San Diego State and one of the worst teams in Div.I football, Utah State. The plus side of this game was the amount of PT that was afforded to the future Cats, this will payoff next year when Matt Scott is tapped to lead the Cats to Back to Back Bowls for the first time since 1997 and 1998.

Week 2 - Another home game against another overmatched opponent the Cats once again looked strong against the Toledo Rockets (suggestion for UT, Toledo Torpedo's? I love alliteration and they've been under water for the last couple years). The offense looked really potent and the Defense had a great Goal Line Stand to force the Torpedos to kick a field goal and close the gap to 72-9.

Week 3 - This is where Cats fans were nervous. UA hadn't started off a season 3-0 since....well I don't know when but I know it wasn't in the recent future. Hell I remember coming back from Freshman Football Scrimmage in August of 1999 expecting Desert Vista High School Alumni Bobby Wade to pick up where he left off with No. 4 Arizona. The Cats lost 41-7 to Penn State. But back to the point, the Cats don't typically win the first 3. They haven't done it under Stoops, didn't do it under Mackovic, might have done it under Tomey at some point in time, but unlikely. UA was expected to win this game though they lost to UNM last year. The Cats came out sloppy. They gorged on the likes of Toledo and Idaho and forgot that New Mexico might not be a BCS team but they have been in a handful of Bowls of recent (even if they made up their own). I had a bad feeling and the Cats lost. The young Cats no-name D couldn't stop Ferguson and Arizona's 5 Turnovers didn't help anything.

Week 4 - The Cats fans came into week 4 expecting their team to lay down and die, again, for the umpteenth time in recent memory, or come out fighting. The problem, UCLA had motivation too, and they had the home field advantage. They however seemingly didn't have half of their training camp starters. Down to a 3rd QB the Cats came out (red pants and all) and took the field by storm and left with a win.

After 4 weeks the Cats are 3-1. That in and of itself is amazing. So we've got 8 games left to see if they can get 4 more wins and a bowl game. What's ahead?

Oct. 4 - Washington (0-4)
Anything less than a win here and despite a 3-2 record Stoops doesn't make it the the Territorial Cup. Cats Win. 4-1
Oct. 11 - at Stanford (3-2)
Tough game, on the road. Stanford is really turning it around. Last year a loss to Stanford was really disappointing. This year, it will still be disappointing but a lot easier to swallow. The Cats will have to come out fast and hard to have the game in their hands. These Cats aren't going to have a whole lot of comebacks. They need to take a lead early to have any chance. Cats Win. 5-1
Oct. 18 - Cal (3-1)
Too close to call right now, we'll have to see how they fare against Arizona State as a nice barometer. I think Jahvid Best will be too much for UA to handle, even though he may be rusty after missing 2 weeks. Cats lose. 5-2
Oct. 25 - HOMECOMING - USC (2-1)
As much as I want to say the the Cats will win this game based on the past Homecoming/Major Upset track record of Stoops which I have discussed at length. And as much as I want to say it based on the USC looking human last week in their loss to Oregon State. I just can't say the Cats will win. I think this will be the closest USC-UA game in awhile, and if the Kitty Kats are still in it in the 4th Tucson will be going nuts (check out Oregon last season). Cats lose. 5-3
Nov. 8 - at Wazzu (1-4)
After back to back losses the character of the Cats will show right now. I think the Cats are much more talented than Wazzu and the Cougars game couldn't come at a better time for Arizona. Cats win. 6-3 - Bowl Eligible
Nov. 15 - at Oregon (4-1)
Oregon looks like they might actually be the class of the Pac-10 right now and depending on development and injuries Oregon should take this one, especially with some leftover revenge feelings after UA knocked them out of Pac 10 Champ and National Champion contention and knocked out their Heisman QB. Cats lose. 6-4
Nov. 22 - Oregon St. (2-2)
Oregon State will most likely float around .500 the rest of the season with some highs and lows. They just don't have the team to make any kind of serious run, despite what you saw last week against USC. Oregon State's D won't be able to keep up with Arizona's O and barring a mental breakdown from Tui Cats walk with this one at home. Cats Win. 7-4
Dec 6 - Scummies (2-2)
Territorial Cup. Cats Win. 8-4.

Going Bowling.