Arizona was a few plays away from pulling off one of the biggest upsets in program history, and arguably the biggest one in college football this season. Instead, the Wildcats headed home from Los Angeles early Sunday with a 43-41 loss in triple overtime to No. 9 USC.
Another moral victory? Not this time, according to coach Jedd Fisch, who said the postgame locker room didn’t resemble one where the team was just happy to almost win.
“It was dead quiet,” Fisch said. “There was disappointment there. This team believes in wins, they don’t believe in trying harder. They believe in the final score representing all of their hard work. Yes I think they all knew they played well. I think they were proud of how they played. The thing I heard was we need to get to work (Sunday) to make sure we have our best week of preparation yet.”
Our full recap can be found here. Below is what Fisch said afterward:
On playing a second straight top-10 team within one score: “I think the 21-point underdog stuff has got to stop. We’ve got a really good football team. Unfortunately we’ve had two games that we lost in overtime, one game we lost by a touchdown. But I couldn’t be more proud of our team. I think our team is as good as anybody that we’ve played, that we will play. And they’re just getting better, and if we can continue to improve like we’re improving and we get to where we want to be, great things will happen.”
On the defense: “Our defense has made unbelievable leaps and bounds from a year ago, and that’s because they trust in the process. They continue to improve each week. I look forward to watching them play the second half of the season.”
On the offense: “We’ve got two really, really good quarterbacks. We’ve got some really good receivers and skill players, we have some great backs. And our offensive line had one heck of a game today.”
On Noah Fifita: “I thought he played a fantastic game.”
On if Fifita’s play has changed the quarterback situation: “No.”
On sending the PAT team out in the second overtime when only 2-point plays were allowed: “I just needed to get clarification from the officials that you had to go for two on the second overtime, not the third. Initially we were going to go for the extra point and just play it out. They said it’s after the second score that you had to go for two. Thought we had a great 2-point play there, we had Jacob (Cowing) wide open, they brought pressure, I think Noah thought he was so open he just laid it up there and No. 7 made a great play.”
On if he considered going for 2 after the first OT: “We thought about it right away, in the first overtime, but we really liked how we were playing defense. I think we held Caleb (Williams) down to the lowest passing yards he had since Week 4 of last year or something like that. We felt like we didn’t need to do that. If you felt like you needed to do it because you think you have to hit a prayer on offense or you can’t stop the ball, maybe, but I didn’t feel that way at all.”
On USC’s game-winning 2-point play: “I felt like we had a chance to stop him, and in the end he might have made the 2-point play by an inch.”
On the strong start: “We talk about starting fast, which we do every week. We were sharp early this week. It was unfortunate, we were up 17-0 and had a takeaway but then gave the ball back.”
On Jacob Cowing: “I think four touchdowns for a wide receiver is pretty impressive. A pretty good night to say the least. Jacob Cowing has really made an effort this whole year—he came back, decided to not go into the draft. Got hurt at the end of the first half, went into the training room and said I’m gonna play. I’m not gonna miss the second half of this game. Hats off to our trainers, our defense to get him ready to play.”
On the penalties: “They were disappointing penalties. There’s a couple of 15-yarders that came out that were disappointing. All in all, I’m not going to sit here and talk about penalties. This is the type of game we wanted to play.”