The Wildcats so far.

The Arizona Wildcats have been a different team each week so far this season. This is usually a very bad thing. In the past, it would be a statement of frustration over close losses. This season, it is less frustration, than confusion. We aren’t really complaining, because we’re undefeated. It’s hard to be too mad when your team is winning.

So lets break down what we thought of the Wildcats game by game.

Toledo:

The consensus going into the game? The Arizona offense is amazing, but the defense will be a major liability. The talk was that Toledo was a good, but not great team. Arizona should be wary of the upset, and the Wildcats were likely to win, but allow a couple of touchdowns. The Arizona LBs would be raw, and would make mistakes to allow Toledo to rack up the rushing yards.

The reality? Arizona completely dominated Toledo. The defense didn’t allow a single point, holding the Rockets to only 80 rushing yards. There wasn’t much hype after this game, with many dismissing it as a Pac-10 team beating up on a MAC team.

The Citadel:

The consensus going into the game? Much the same as the previous week. The Wildcats Offense is as good as advertised. The defense will still be a weakness, but the DTs and LBs are a little better than previously feared. The defense is still raw and untested, and will give up the big play against Iowa and the Pac-10 teams. There were comments here and there that the Wildcats should be wary of the upset, as several FCS teams had recently upset FBS squads. Most fans that I spoke to expected the Arizona defense to surrender a touchdown or two to the triple-option on the way to a rout of the Bulldogs.

The reality? Arizona didn’t allow a single touchdown. The offense was impressive, even against inferior competition. The defense performed well against the triple-option. In fact, it became clear that defending the triple-option was actually making the Arizona defensive players better. They were forced to pay close attention to the offense. To not jump early, lest they leave a hole for the option attack. I credit this as a major reason why the Wildcats were so effective on defense the following week.

Iowa:

The consensus going into the game? Iowa will win a close game. A lot of respect was paid to coach Stoops and the Arizona football team. But the majority of predictions had Iowa to win. Arizona’s offensive line was no match for the Iowa defensive line, and would be dominated all night. Arizona had an above average offense, but would not be able to overcome the dominating Iowa defense. Arizona’s raw LBs and DTs would be exposed, as Iowa RB Adam Robinson would run all over them.

The reality? Arizona completely shut down the Iowa run game, allowing only 29 rushing yards. The Iowa defensive line, touted as one of the best in the nation, was a non-factor in this game. The defense played amazing all night, and put up one of the most dominating final stands I have ever seen at the end of the game, delivering four straight sacks. The offense was impressive in the first half, stalled in the third quarter, and was dominant on its final drive. Expectations went through the roof after the conclusion of this game.

Cal:

The consensus going into the game? Cal will win in an upset. The Arizona Wildcats will be better than the Cal Golden Bears on both sides of the ball, but will succumb to the let-down against Cal. Cal would come back strong from the embarrassment of losing to Nevada 52-31, and defeat an over-confident Arizona squad. Cal RB Shane Vereen would punish the Arizona defense, and lead the Golden Bears to a win.

The reality? Regardless of whether you picked Cal or Arizona to win, nobody saw this coming. All defense. No offense until 2:37 remained in the game. Serious questions were raised as to the quality of the Arizona offense, scoring only 10 points against a squad that had allowed Nevada to score 52 points the previous week. This was emphasized by the fact that Arizona did not budge from the #14 spot in the national rankings. The defense, on the other hand, turned in yet another dominating performance. Turning in multiple goal-line stands and surrendering not one touchdown. This game solidified an already stellar unit.

The consensus going forward? You tell me. Let me know what you think. As for my opinion? The Arizona offense will rebound in a big way against Oregon St., and the defense will continue to be one of the best in the nation. If I were a fan of any other Pac-10 team, I would be very worried about playing the Wildcats. I stand by my pick from before the season kicked off. Arizona will win the Pac-10.

Links to the ESPN game recaps and stats.

Arizona @ Toledo

The Citadel @ Arizona

Iowa @ Arizona

Cal @ Arizona

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