Rich Rodriguez has changed the culture at Arizona. He's putting his Wildcats on everyone's radar and keeping the Pac-12 in check. After back-to-back eight win seasons, his team broke out and won the Pac-12 South, while winning one of the most important Territorial Cup games ever, 42-35.
Sprinkled between the glory, come those ever so painful losses.
|@ #3 Oregon||49-0|
|vs #18 Oregon State||38-35|
|@ #18 Stanford||54-48 (OT)|
|vs Arizona State||41-34|
This was a year full of painful losses.
The Oregon game seemed pretty promising, holding them to just seven points in the first quarter, but there were just too many failed attempts to score for Arizona. Oregon just flat out dominated in the second half, and Arizona dropped to 3-1 on the season.
The game against Oregon State was a very entertaining one. It was back and forth all night long with Oregon State pulling off a game winning drive for Arizona's second straight loss. Losing at home always sucks.
In Palo Alto, there was an even more entertaining game. No team had scored more than 17 points on Stanford heading into that game, and then Arizona dropped 48 on them. This was a pretty disappointing loss considering this was the third one during a pretty brutal stretch of the season. Arizona had a 48-34 lead with just nine minutes left in the game, allowing Stanford to tie it up in the final minute. This is also when Rich Rodriguez elected to take a knee and head to overtime, with about 50 seconds on the clock and two timeouts left.
The UCLA game was just awful. It was a poor offensive performance in Los Angeles, with a score of 42-3 at halftime. Arizona would go on to lose by 56 points, and it's Rich Rodriguez' worst loss at Arizona (maybe his career). Hopefully that never happens again.
In the Territorial Cup, Matt Scott took some pretty solid hits. I'll never understand why he tried to hurdle a defender, which resulted in a lost fumble, and the start of Arizona State's 24 unanswered points in the 4th quarter. Not Scott's best game, ending the day with four turnovers. A Territorial Cup loss is never good, and this one allowed ASU to match Arizona's 7-5 record, and jump to 3rd in the Pac-12 South.
|@ #16 Washington||31-13|
|vs #19 UCLA||31-26|
|vs Washington State||24-17|
|@ #12 Arizona State||58-21|
A game at Washington, in poor conditions, with B.J. Denker as the quarterback in his first big game of the season. It was hard to imagine a win coming at the time. Denker had averaged 108 yards per game in non-conference, completing just 31 passes.
Again, heading into USC, on a Thursday night, it was probably pretty hard to imagine beating USC twice in two seasons. USC had just fired Lane Kiffin and was either going to come out completely flat or 100% motivated for Ed Orgeron. It was all USC early, going deep twice early, pulling out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Then all of a sudden, Arizona starts to strike a comeback, but it was too little too late, falling 38-31 in Los Angeles.
Homecoming night, this was a big game for Tucson and a lot of people were excited. Of course this is when Myles Jack decides to break out into a freshman all-american, finishing with 120 yards on just six carries, busting a huge 66 yard touchdown on a big 3rd down in the 4th quarter. We also saw a rare Ka'Deem Carey fumble, in the red zone of all places, which could have totally changed the landscape of the game.
Washington State is the bottom feeder of the Pac-12, and we lost at home to them. That was really sad.
After a big win at home against Oregon, led by B.J. Denker's flawless performance and Ka'Deem Carey's 48 carries, the 'Cats were headed to Tempe for vengeance. B.J. Denker definitely did not eat his Wheaties that morning because that was possibly the worst performance by an Arizona quarterback ever. ASU's defense was really good that year, but Denker could not get anything going, which did not do Ka'Deem Carey any favors. It was 27-0 midway through the second quarter, and that tells the story of how the night went. When I came back to look at this score for this article, I was actually impressed that Arizona put up 21 points.
|@ #22 UCLA||17-7|
|vs #2 Oregon||51-13|
|vs #20 Boise State||38-31|
USC was another entertaining game to watch, and if either Nick Wilson or Terris Jones-Grigsby were 100% healthy, this could have been a completely different outcome. But that's not to say that Jared Baker didn't do well, because he did, giving us flashes of what he can do in 2015. But when Casey Skowron missed the game winning field goal vs USC, Arizona fans let him have it, with death threats and more. But people seemed to have forgotten that he scored more than half of the points vs. UTSA and had the perfect onside kick to put Arizona in position to beat Cal. Nonetheless, a tough way to lose a game, at home, to start off 6-0.
UCLA was another game that was pretty painful to watch. After scoring in the first two minutes of the game. Arizona was held scoreless for the remainder of the game. The defense did all that they could, containing Brett Hundley and kept him running for his life. Arizona went 6-20 on 3rd downs, averaging 3.6 yards per pass and 2.6 yards per rush. Just a bad night.
Another promising game in the beginning for Arizona, allowing just six points on two field goal attempts for Oregon to end the first quarter of the Pac-12 Championship Game. But key turnovers, including Tyrell Johnson's fumble on Arizona's first possession definitely hurt. Then the floodgates opened and Oregon was being Oregon. But hey, it's not easy beating Oregon three times in the span of 13 months.
My vote as the toughest loss of the season, Boise State came out firing on all cylinders, pushing to a 21-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. This is when Anu let his freshman show, struggling all game long. The defense did all it could in the second half, shutting out Boise State. The seven points scored by the Broncos came from a pick six with Anu Solomon backed up into his own endzone. The running game wasn't exactly there, but that's probably because Arizona was down by 14 pretty much at all times. Drawing Boise State was definitely a lose-lose situation for Arizona, not much credit would have been awarded because the nation would have expected Arizona to beat Boise State, and a loss means you get put to shame for losing to Boise State. But, nonetheless, a Fiesta Bowl win would have been huge for this program, pushing to an 11-3 record on the season.