EUGENE OR - NOVEMBER 26: Head Coach Mike Stoops of the Arizona Wildcats walks the sidelines against the Oregon Ducks on November 26 2010 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
So, how do Arizona Wildcat fans get themselves amped up for this one? The Wildcats are coming off of a 4 game losing streak, and put forth the worst football game I've seen them play in years against their in-state rivals the Arizona St. Sun Devils.
Arizona QB Nick Foles put it best. "We're just getting the mindset that we're starting over. A bowl game is a new season. It's almost like you have a camp going on and then you move forward. We're moving forward with workouts. We had a week straight of just workouts, getting our speed and explosion back. Once we hit the practice field I could just tell there was a little different vibe. Everybody had a little bit more movement. It's just the excitement. Everybody is excited to play in the Alamo Bowl and just to be out there playing. There's a lot of teams not playing in a bowl game and we're fortunate to be one of the teams who are playing. We had a lot of senior leadership this season, a lot of guys who stepped up and kept the team together. Even though we didn't end the season they way we wanted to, we were in most of those games and competing really hard. I think the key is continuing to move forward."
Foles is right. This is a new season. More than that, it's a chance for the Wildcats to prove that they belong on the national stage. That this is not some middling program, but a program on the rise, in the toughest conference in the nation. Some see the challenge of defeating the Oklahoma St. Cowboys as too much for Arizona. The Oklahoma St. offense is too good, with the nation's best wide receiver, the Cowboys' Justin Blackmon being too much for the 'overrated' Arizona defense to handle.
To hell with that nonsense.
Oklahoma St. may have the best WR, but Arizona surely has the most underrated WR. Arizona's Juron Criner is flat out the best WR in the Pac-10, the best offensive conference in the nation. He's big, fast, and will catch the ball upside down while being hit. And while everyone is paying so much attention to the Oklahoma St. offense, don't forget how impressive the Arizona offense has been this season against superior defenses.
That overrated defense of Arizona's? That defense performed admirably against the best offenses in the nation, week in and week out. As if that wasn't enough, look at the non-conference games. Aside from the standard 'gimme' game against The Citadel Bulldogs, the Wildcats faced and defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Toledo Rockets. Both of them solid teams. Both of them Bowl teams.
When I look at this game, I see a solid Oklahoma St. team, and a solid Arizona team. Anyone that is predicting a blow-out here, is flat out crazy. Oklahoma may have a better record, and better offensive stats, but they play in an inferior conference, against inferior competition. Do the Cowboys have quality wins this season? Absolutely. Did they face anything close to the gauntlet that Arizona navigated this season? Absolutely not.
I look forward to an intensely competitive Alamo Bowl. One that will likely be decided in the fourth quarter. What more could you ask for? Two solid teams, two solid coaches, a great venue, and a game that promises to be an epic contest.
I'm proud of Arizona for making it to the Alamo Bowl, and I'm damn proud to call myself an Arizona Wildcat fan. I can't wait to watch two great offenses go at it, and put on a great show for the entire nation. And while I respect coach Gundy, and the entire Oklahoma St. organization, I won't curb my Wildcat enthusiasm for a second.
No surprise here, I'll be taking the Arizona Wildcats to win a tight one, 28-21, as a result of a last minute touchdown drive.
Bear Down, Wildcats! Beat the Cowboys!