In their last home game, the Arizona Wildcats drew their smallest crowd since 1997.
A paltry 36,651 showed up to see the hometown Wildcats take on the Utah Utes in what turned out to be a disastrous game for Arizona football, as it committed five turnovers in a 30-24 loss.
That people didn’t show up for that game was understandable, though.
- It was a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Too late.
- It was a Friday night, conflicting with high school football.
- Utah, while a good football program, doesn’t have the same notoriety as other Pac-12 schools. And, being a ranked team, may have been viewed as “too good” for Arizona.
- Arizona had lost its previous home game to Houston in ugly fashion. There wasn’t much to look forward to football-wise.
But this weekend, Arizona fans should be showing up in droves when the team hosts the UCLA Bruins, because none of those same things are true.
As UA athletic director Dave Heeke tweeted Monday, there’s “no reason” Arizona Stadium shouldn’t be packed Saturday.
- Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. local time. You can go to the game and still get home at a reasonable hour. And you don’t have to wait all day for it to start.
- The game is on a Saturday. There are no high school football conflicts.
- It’s Family Weekend.
- Temperatures are expected to be in the low 80s/high 70s at kickoff — a near-perfect climate for football.
- Tickets are as low as $15
- There aren’t any other great college football games to watch. There are zero games between top-25 teams this weekend.
- UCLA, a reputable but beatable team, is in town (in fact, Arizona opened as slight favorites, despite dropping its last five to UCLA).
- So is one of the game’s best talents in quarterback Josh Rosen, who may very well be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
- This game matters. Possibly a lot. Arizona is 3-2 with Oregon State, ASU, and Cal still on its schedule. Beating UCLA would go a long way toward a bowl bid and having fans in the stands only helps UA’s chances.
- And, finally, the Wildcats now have some star power of their own in Khalil Tate, who is coming off one of the most electrifying performances by a quarterback in FBS history.
Many fans were clamoring for Tate to start, and that’s likely to happen Saturday. So the least Wildcat fans can do is show up to cheer him on.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire