The Arizona Wildcats have had plenty of time to dwell on their disappointing loss at Hawaii, the result of a bye immediately after that season-opening game.
While taking a week off so soon into the season normally wouldn’t seem that ideal, coach Kevin Sumlin indicated last month that it was very welcome considering the travel involved with a trip to the islands.
“The bye comes at the right time for us, just from a recovery standpoint,” Sumlin said.
Turns out that recovery might not just be physical. There’s also the mental aspect that comes with starting a season off with a loss, which Arizona is doing for the second year in a row and third time in four seasons.
Yet neither Arizona or Sumlin have been particularly successful in games immediately after a weekend off. Since 2009 the Wildcats are 6-7 in games after byes, while Sumlin is 4-7 in that same time frame with five consecutive losses.
Last year the Wildcats were crushed 69-28 at Washington State despite coming off a bye, which didn’t come until Arizona had played 10 consecutive weeks. It had won the last two before the break, so while the time off might have been valuable from a physical standpoint it could have also had a negative impact in terms of stalling momentum.
It may be a blessing that Arizona’s next opponent is NAU, an FCS school that is coming off a 37-23 home win over Missouri State on Thursday. The competition will be much stiffer following the Wildcats’ two other byes, hosting UCLA in the Pac-12 opener on Sept. 28 and visiting Oregon on Nov. 16 following weekends off.