At the beginning of the year, college football fans, or at least Pac-12 fans, circled this as one of the must-see games of the year.
Nine weeks later, Wildcat and Trojan fans have circled this week as a "what kind of a performance will we get tonight?" game.
To be fair, the USC Trojans are slowly trending upwards after wins over then-No. 3 Utah and California. Plus, considering the turmoil they had earlier this season, it would shock no one if they reeled off victories in their last four games thanks to a more consistent foundation underneath them.
Doing so would include victories over Oregon and a ranked UCLA, all the while positioning the Trojans for a shot in the Pac-12 title game. Because they own the tie-breaker over the Utes, all they need is Utah to falter once down the stretch. (Utah doesn't have a difficult final four, but it does include games at Washington and home to UCLA).
In addition, with the ride #Pac12AfterDark has been taking us on all season, I think we all know the likelihood of any team in the conference running the table is far from secure.
Heading in the other direction - down, if you just emerged from a cave - are the Arizona Wildcats (5-4, 2-4),
With wins over UTSA, Nevada, NAU, Oregon State, and Colorado, Arizona is still without a "quality win" on their resume with just three games left. After looking over past U of A schedules, one has to go all the way back to 2003 to find a year they did not have a quality victory (the best that year was over a 5-5 Washington team).
When you begin the season 22nd in the polls and you've played the way we have, it's easy to call this season a disappointment.
And rightfully so.
But if history is any indication, this team WILL get a quality win this season and fortunately for us, we only have quality opponents left. Okay, let me back up, technically USC and ASU's records wouldn't indicate they are quality opponents, but I think we all would consider beating USC and/or ASU a quality victory.
However, is it even realistic to bring up the chance that Arizona can beat these teams?
I think so.
While the team's defense is atrocious and arguably the worst that I've seen during my college days, the offense (I
think hope) still has the ability to put up enough points to make it close towards the finish because we've seen how inconsistent USC, Utah, and ASU have been.
So let me pose this to the faithful: What needs to happen over the next three games for this season to be considered a success?
For me, it would be winning two out of the next three games, with one being against Arizona State. We have already lost a top recruit, Rich Rod's name is being brought up for every job opening, and we're being floated as the only team to make a bowl game with five wins - and it's literally Arizona's own bowl game so the only way it can get worse is if Rich Rod actually heads back east.
Furthermore, winning two out of three is the only way to end the regular season with a better than .500 record. Plus, is any season really successful if you lose to the team up north? A victory there, while not relieving all the painful losses, will go a long ways towards a happy Thanksgiving and continued in-state dominance.
And if not, heck, we have basketball season to look forward to!