Arizona will take on Nebraska in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl on December 29, 2009 at 8:00 ET. The Arizona Wildcats finished 8-4 and 6-3 in the Pac-10. Arizona finished 2nd in the Pac-10 in 2009. Nebraska finished 9-4 and was 1 second away from playing in a BCS bowl game. Other than the BCS games, the Nebraska/Arizona matchup will be one of the most anticipated games of the bowl season. Mike Stoops has been with Arizona since 2004 when he started his Arizona career with a 3-8 record. He has turned the program around and created a winning atmosphere that has led him to an 8 win season in 2008 which included a Las Vegas Bowl victory over BUY 21-10. Stoops added another 8 win season in 2009. The Las Vegas Bowl was Arizona's first bowl game since 1998 where Arizona defeated Nebraska 23-20.
Bo Pelini has been at Nebraska as the head coach since 2008. He won 9 games in 2008 and another 9 this year. Nebraska beat Clemson last year in the Gator Bowl 26-21. Pelini rescued Nebraska who was 5-7 in 2007. Nebraska had a great year winning the Big XII North and going to the Big XII Championship game to face Texas. It seemed as if Nebraska had it sewn up when Colt McCoy threw the ball out of bounds with :00 left on the clock. It was all for not as the replay booth gave the Horns 1 second and that was all they needed to kick the game winning FG. Nebraska will be a tough opponent who has a guy named Ndamakuh Suh. Yeah, you know him.
ARIZONA WILDCATS: HOW THEY GOT HERE
|AP Final Rank||22|
|Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game||112|
|Passing Yards Allowed Per Game||204|
|Rushing Yards Per Game||168|
|Passing Yards Per Game||240|
Arizona started off the season with a different quarterback and a healthy running back in Nic Grigsby. After two and a half games, Nic Foles was at the helm and Nic Grigsby was already fading in the health department. After the mid-game switch to Foles, the Cats took on a new identity and began to rack up offense.
September 5, 2009: The Cats opened up the season starting Matt Scott and took care of Central Michigan at home holding Lefevour to his 3rd fewest passing yards in 40 starts. Grigsby had 118 yards on 23 carries. Starting out stong. Arizona 19 vs. Central Michigan 6
September 12, 2009: Arizona plays a gimme at home. Grigsby ran for 207 yards, including a 94 yard run in the 4th quarter. Matt Scott was 14-20 with 150 yards and a TD and an INT. Foles enters the mix going 6-8 with a TD and 44 yards passing. Arizona 34 vs. Northern Arizona University 17
September 19, 2009: Times are a changing. With Matt Scott struggling most of the game, Stoops looks to Foles to inspire the offense. Foles tried to salvage the Cats going 6-11 with 55 yards and a TD. This was most definitely the turning point of the season. Arizona 17 vs. Iowa 27
September 26, 2009: Coming out party? Definitely. Foles was 25-34 for 254 yards and threw for 3 TD and 0 interceptions. The defense was exploited in the secondary. The Cats start gaining momentum at this point. Arizona 37 vs. Oregon State 32
October 10, 2009: The first of many disappointments to come. Did you see it? Check it out below. That ball definitely hit the turf. One of many offensive play calls that was questionable all season with the Cats up and on offense, we are throwing. Another great performance by the offense. Locker had an incredible game and the ball just didn't bounce our way, literally. Arizona 33 vs. Washington 36
October 17, 2009: Arizona puts on offensive show and goes toe to toe with Andrew Luck. Nick Foles is 40-51 for 415 yards and 3 touchdowns. Defense gets torched for 583 yards. Arizona wins, momentum builds. Arizona is now 4-2. Arizona 43 vs. Stanford 38
October 24, 2009: Domination. Arizona gains 456 yards. Foles gets 247 but has 3 INT's. Rushing game gets 209 from an array of different backs. Still missing Grigs at this point. Arizona 27 vs. UCLA 13
November 14, 2009: Are you kidding me? A double pass? The Cats were poised to win the game by setting up a field goal for Zendejas only to have it disappear in an instant. Sad, sad day for the Cats. The offensive line looked terrible on this day. Arizona 16 vs. California 24
November 21, 2009: Oh no! Not again? The Cats look like they are in control heading into the 4th quarter. There was a 3rd and long that I questioned here where I thought the offense should have run it and then punted the ball, milking precious time off the clock. Instead, Foles throws an INT and gives Oregon the ball on their 20 with no timeouts used. We all know the rest, right? Arizona 41 vs. Oregon 44
December 5, 2009: Arizona breaks a 7 game losing streak to USC by winning in the final 3:00 of the game with a 36 yard pass from Nick Foles to Juron Criner. The Cats pulled off an incredible win that brings them to San Diego! Arizona 21 vs. USC 17
And that's how it happened. Arizona had a great, but disappointing season. There were a few games that a more experienced, less injured team should have won this year. The Cats lost to Washington, Oregon, and Cal all within the last 2:00 of the game. Nick Foles solidified himself as the leader of the team and the defense came together as a unit to finish in the top 25 overall.
Next up: Arizona vs. Nebraska: How They Got Here Part II