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Pac-12 Championship: Arizona vs. Oregon time, TV schedule and more

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Arizona football goes for a third win over the Oregon Ducks in three tries.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Rich Rodriguez came to Arizona three years ago admitting he didn't know the city of Tucson well. Nobody blamed him. Arizona Wildcats fans were happy for a fresh, exciting start. Rodriguez's Michigan tenure went very differently -- he arrived with the fanbase questioning his Michigan-manness, if you don't remember.

And Rodriguez always wished he'd been able to bake the cake and eat it too. That was the analogy he used during his opening presser in Tucson: He gathered the ingredients in Ann Arbor, even put the cake in the oven.

He didn't ever get to eat.

At Arizona, he's about to get a taste of his first attempt. All along, he said the Wildcats could contend. After all, basketball, swimming, softball, baseball and other sports have succeeded in the Old Pueblo.

Why not football?

"My reaction is really like, at least we're known for something," Rodriguez said this week on the Pac-12 teleconference call. "The truth is we're good at a lot of sports. It's almost like, hey, if we're good at that ... I felt confident it could happen (in football), I just didn't know when."

Friday, the Wildcats head to Santa Clara, Calif., to face an Oregon team they have beaten twice in a row. Many believe it's a straight play-in to the college football playoff, even though Arizona stands No. 7 in the College football playoff rankings. The Wildcats could use help from a team like Wisconsin over Ohio State, but nonetheless, a win over the Ducks is obviously necessary for this conversation to continue.

The Wildcats will once again have to key on getting pressure on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has struggled the last two times against UA -- an injury two games ago and offensive line injuries the last time out make it difficult to understand how it will go this time around. Oregon has a relatively healthy line at present, though center Hroniss Grasu is still questionable to play.

Rodriguez said Arizona must avoid over-scouting itself as it tries to remain a step ahead of the Ducks.

"You don't want to trick yourself, so-to-speak, you don't want to do things you can't execute," Rodriguez said. "You got to be careful, especially with a championship game, that you don't confuse your players too much. We've got to find that balance during the week."

Win or loss, the Wildcats have already reach heights unimagined at the beginning of the Rodriguez era, at the beginning of this year, and even heading into the final game of the year against Arizona State. Or maybe it wasn't that surprising to Rodriguez.

He's already getting to eat.


7 p.m. MST



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