Ok, after a nights sleep, I’ve calmed a bit from the euphoria of witnessing the Arizona victory. Now it’s time to go over that great game. Heading into the game, almost every prediction on the major networks had Arizona losing. In fact, I have only heard of one person from a major network that gave the Wildcats a shot. Lou Holtz. And apparently coach Stoops was listening. "I want to thank Lou Holtz, too. He picked us today, too. He thought we’d play them and had a chance to win." There was much made of the weakness of the interior defensive line, and the inexperience of the LBs. It was thought that the Iowa Hawkeyes would win by running the ball down the throat of the Arizona defense. It was widely speculated that the Arizona offense would have to carry the team, and would have a difficult time doing so against such a dominant defense. Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn, especially was expected to wreak havoc for Arizona QB Nick Foles. Things didn’t quite turn out that way.
The Arizona defense dominated the Iowa offense for the first half of the game. Allowing only one touchdown, and shutting down the vaunted Iowa rushing attack. The Arizona offense took a commanding lead to head into halftime. While the running game never looked dominant for Arizona, it did just enough. Getting the hard, short yards when needed. It seemed that the Wildcats were on the way to a blowout victory. And then the second half started.
Through some tough play by Iowa, some questionable calls by the Pac-10 officiating crew, and some cringe-inducing mistakes, Arizona allowed Broderick Binns to tie the game via a pick 6 and threaten to take the lead in the fourth quarter. With the entire crowd in disbelief, wondering how they were suddenly facing an extra point kick that would give Iowa the lead, Arizona found some magic. S Joseph Perkins blocked the extra point kick. Suddenly, the crowd was energized. Arizona would be receiving the ball, and Nick ‘Sunshine’ Foles was going to have a chance to put the Cats up by a touchdown.
Nick Foles did not disappoint. He went 5 of 6, for 76 yards and the game winning touchdown pass to WR William ‘Bug’ Wright. The Defense would hold Iowa to just 5 yards of offense for the remainder of the game, and Freshman DT Justin Washington recorded 2 sacks to seal the victory. Euphoria ensued. Arizona had passed every test they needed to. And on a national stage.
Offensive MVP: QB Nick Foles. 28/39, 303 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT While Foles did throw an interception, he displayed the leadership and calm under fire that truly great players posses. He had a great night against a solid defense.
Defensive MVP: CB Trevin Wade. 5 solo tackles, 1 INT for 85 yards and a TD Trevin Wade was his usual dominant self against the Hawkeyes, and his Pick-6 set Arizona Stadium on fire.
Special Teams: WR Travis Cobb. 3 returns, 148 yards, 100 yard return for a TD Travis Cobb returning the kick for a 100 yard TD silenced the Hawkeye fans in the crowd.
Freshman Watch: DT Justin Washington. 4 solo tackles, 2 sacks Washington made a name for himself in this game, and got himself plastered all over SportsCenter for his monster sack of Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi in the fourth quarter.
Special Mention: LB Derek Earls. 4 solo tackles, 2 assists Earls was flying all over the field. He will be a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-10 this season.
Some interesting quotes from coach Mike Stoops’ post game press conference. Video of the press conference here.
On whether ‘Bug’ Wrights game winning TD was a redemption for his muffed punt return. "Yeah, I was kind of losing my patience with him in the fourth quarter."
On the crowd. "The crowd, shoot. We were getting great jumps. The crowd noise is so important to us being able to get off the snap count."
On whether the victory over Iowa was a ‘signature’ win. "It’s a character game, I think. In a lot of ways. I think those can be program changing wins."
On the Iowa Hawkeyes. "Iowa, I don’t think anybody realizes how good that team is. We certainly do. Our kids did, and they respected them in a lot of ways. And again, they’ll be back. And who knows? Maybe we’ll have a chance to play them again."
Some links to re-live the glory.