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Arizona vs Stanford: The Wildcats' upcoming game in Palo Alto is season-defining

The sky might be falling right now, but a win over Stanford could keep the Wildcats in the hunt for a Pac-12 South title. A loss, however, could have the 'Cats clawing just to make it to a bowl game.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats were blown out by the UCLA Bruins this past Saturday, and they lost Scooby Wright III for "several weeks" with a foot sprain, plus Anu Solomon is "day-to-day" after suffering a concussion.

It seems like everything that can go wrong has gone wrong for Arizona football lately, and this week's game against the Stanford Cardinal will determine if the sky will continue to fall, or if the Wildcats still have a chance to make this a special season.

What a win against Stanford would mean

With Scooby out, and Anu seemingly unlikely to play, it will take a lot for the Wildcats to beat a ranked Stanford team in Palo Alto. However, an improbable win could allow Arizona to jump right back into the Pac-12 South race.

Following the Stanford game, Arizona plays (in order) vs. Oregon State, at Colorado, vs Washington State, and at Washington. With or without Scooby Wright, the Wildcats should be favored to win all four of those games if they can get Anu Solomon back in time. And frankly, I think they would win all of them or lose one at most.

That means that if the Wildcats beat Stanford, we're still looking at a realistic possibility of the team being 8-1 or maybe 7-2 heading into the final three games against USC, Utah, and Arizona State.

Rich Rodriguez wasn't very specific about Scooby Wright's timetable to return from his foot sprain, but that USC game is five weeks away. You'd have to assume that there's a solid chance that Wright will be back by then -- just in time for Arizona to take on the meat of their schedule.

Who knows how the final three games would play out, but with the way things have gone for Arizona football lately, the fact that they'd even have a chance to repeat as Pac-12 South champions would be remarkable. At worst they'd have a chance to make it to the Holiday Bowl or Alamo Bowl.

What a loss would mean

If Arizona loses in Palo Alto this weekend, well, I think it'd be time to just focus on making it to a bowl game. The opportunity to repeat as Pac-12 South Champions would be out the window, and the chance of making it to the Holiday Bowl or Alamo Bowl could be too.

At best, Arizona would be 7-2 heading into that final stretch against USC, Utah, and ASU. USC and Utah are top-10 teams, and we know that when Arizona plays ASU, it's always a toss up. Perhaps a eight or nine-win season could be possible with a trip to the Holiday Bowl or Foster Farms Bowl.

If Arizona drops a game to either OSU, CU, WSU, or UW, then we're looking at a 6-3 record heading into the final three games, and an 8-4 record at best (they're not winning all three games). That make the Foster Farms Bowl as the best-case scenario with the Sun Bowl and Las Vegas bowls as options if Arizona loses two out of three.

And if they lose all three? We have to create some sort of device that would wipe this season from our memory Perhaps no bowl game at all.

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With all the adversity Arizona is facing right now, beating Stanford on the road is quite a daunting task. It's going to take all hands on deck, and probably some luck. That said, if they manage to pull off the upset, it could completely alter the overall outcome of the season.

If they can't do it, then it'd probably be time to reconsider what could be considered a "successful season". I know a lot of people had a 10-2 or 9-3 season in mind before the season started, but I don't think an 8-4 season sounds too bad right now.

But let's wait and see what happens on Saturday first.