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Arizona’s defense is not over-rated.

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The Arizona Wildcats face a major test this Saturday when they travel to Stanford Stadium. They will be competing against one of the best offenses that they will face all year. Led by Heisman candidate QB Andrew Luck, the Cardinal offense is racking up an average of 42.4 points per game, and 466.9 yards per game. Luck is predicted to put up huge numbers on an Arizona defense, that is somehow not as good as it seems. Looking at Stanford’s offensive stats, you’d think that, as an Arizona fan, I should be worried about the game. But I’m not worried. I’m angry. Or, more appropriately, 'mastrated'. (Thanks for inventing that word, Ted Miller.)

I am sick and tired of the talk of the Arizona defense being ‘lucky’. That Arizona’s dominant defensive statistics are seen as ‘over-rated’ or ‘inflated’ by playing teams that were either sub-standard, or ‘having a bad day’. This is football we’re talking about, right? The sport of testosterone, of ‘put up or shut up’. The good win, and the bad lose.

If your team lost, they didn’t lose because they had a bad day. They lost because they were beaten by a better team. This isn’t golf. You aren’t playing against a course. You’re competing against the opposing players and coaches, and you’ll either be better than them or you won’t. It was exactly this type of nonsense that led to Iowa being ranked above Arizona for several weeks, regardless of the fact that Arizona beat them and had the same record. The argument was that Iowa had simply had a bad game. Of course they had a bad game, THEY LOST. It’s always a bad game when you lose to a better team.

Arizona’s defense has received criticism from all over this season, including from me. While I still proudly point out that the JUCO LBs are a major strength this season, not the weakness that was feared before the season started, I too have been a doubter. I have been extraordinarily frustrated with the zone defense this season. This is the result of foolishness on my part. Let’s break down why I’m wrong.

Arizona is winning games, and often as a direct result of the defense’s efforts. Arizona is currently 7-1 and ranked #15 in the nation. It’s crazy to be hand-wringing about the defense with a record like that. Three years ago, I’d have killed to have the Wildcats sitting at 7-1.

The defense is ranked near the top of almost every defensive category. What more can I expect? A shut-out every week? Arizona competes in the Pac-10. And it’s no stretch to state that it holds the greatest collection of offenses of any of the AQ-conferences.

Mike Stoops was a national championship-winning defensive coordinator. He knows defense. Much better than me. It is foolish to think that he doesn’t know exactly what his defensive staff is doing. He is smarter than anyone gives him credit for, and that will demonstrate itself over the entirety of this season.

Over the next few days, there will be many writers and sportscasters picking Stanford to win, and Luck to have a huge day. I, obviously, will not be among them. I fully expect the Wildcats defense to demonstrate just how good they really are, in an Arizona victory. And, I fully expect the national media to state that Stanford put forth a sub-standard effort, and that nobody should put too much faith in Arizona’s stats.

Well, you know what? Ok. I just hope that the respective coaches of Stanford, USC, Oregon, and ASU are foolish enough to believe that the Arizona defense is over-rated. Although I doubt it.

Bear Down, Arizona! Beat the Cardinal!