November 5, 2007

(UA 48, at Washington 41)

It finally happened. You knew it was just a matter of time so you tried to prepare for it, but when something this monumental comes to pass you can’t help but feel stunned and disoriented.

The 2007 Arizona football team won two games in a row.

It was a strange week leading up to this game. The team won the previous game so the firing squad was given the week off. But the fan base had been burned so many times this year that nobody dared to get too close to the bonfire, even for Homecoming.

So there was little discussion, minimal anticipation and miniscule expectations. But our guys went out there and won anyway, and for that we thank them.

Good old November, with a chill in the air. Oh wait, that was just the cooling sensation of me applying another layer of SPF-45.

And just to rub it in they turned on the stadium lights for the second half. Did we have extra money in the utilities budget this month?

So Mike Stoops is now 6-11 in September, 3-13 (oh my) in October, and 7-4 in November. Instead of taking two bye weeks this month can we start playing next year’s schedule?

After the first quarter we had a 2-to-1 advantage in yards over the Bruins and by halftime it was a 3-to-1 edge. The Cats had a 96-yard scoring drive that took three plays, and one of them was a five-yard sack. All hail the big plays.

Lost in the complaining about the final quarter and a half is the excellent start to the second half. UCLA took the opening kickoff down only 13 points. The Wildcat D forced a three-and-out and the offense responded with a seven play, 72-yard drive to push the lead to 20. It’s something good teams do and it’s something to build on.

That final touchdown was a thing of beauty. Third and 3 on the UCLA 27 and we fake the handoff to Grigsby running one way, fake the end-around to Thomas going the other way and throw it to a wiiiide open Gronk for six. You have to give Dykes credit for introducing a new wrinkle almost every week. I am certainly enjoying the growth of this system.

Arizona’s new offense: Sonny with a chance of thunder.

But then UCLA went on a 13-0 run, just like when they play us in hoops, and things got squirmy. The defense held on however, and we had our first winning streak of the year.

You want winning streaks? Red jerseys and blue pants: 3-0 as home underdogs, 0-3 as the home favorite. Every single time we wear them the underdog wins. (Note: We will not be a favorite next game.)

In Nic Grigsby’s seven starts (all against Pac-10 teams), he is now averaging 82 rushing yards a contest, and that includes a 10-yard game and a 24-yard game. In league play young Grig is averaging 104 yards from scrimmage per game. And his first run of more than 25 yards turned into his first run of 60 yards. I like this kid.

Speaking of runners, how about this new nimble Willie Tuitama? For the second consecutive week he finished with a net positive rushing total. Nobody is happier than me seeing our quarterback take the free ten yards when they are available, but can we please get Andy Lopez to come in and teach Willie how to slide? We don’t need our record-setting QB going airborne and getting upended. If you see a running lane, take off, get what you can, and hit the deck.

Students, come on now. Rushing the field after beating an unranked 5-3 team? These guys lost to Notre Dame for crying out loud. Look, I understand we’re in jeopardy of watching our yearly field-storming streak come to an end, but you can’t just make up a reason. Now, if we beat Oregon I’ll be right out there with you.

So how do we stop a team that is a last-second fumble away from being the #1 team in the land? Well, for one we hope they spend the next 12 days hearing about how they should be the #1 team in the land. In fact, I might just fire off an e-card right…now.

Now Arizona fans are in the uncomfortable position of being able to help Arizona State in a big way. Even though Oregon owns the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Ducks and Devils are still tired atop the conference standings. Assuming the Devils don’t do anything next week to stop the Karl Dorrell Farewell Tour, they will remain one Oregon loss away from having the inside track to the Pac-10 crown.

Wouldn’t that fit this season perfectly? If something good happens to us, something great could happen to them. We win, they win more. Damned if you lose, help the damned if you don’t.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to win. As hard as it may be to believe (or as little as we may want to believe) we do still have plenty for which to play. In fact, we were just a couple minutes away from a UA-perspective perfect day in the Whacked-5. We won our game, and bottom-feeder Washington rose up to defeat middlin’ Stanford, but Wazzu fell just short against league leader California. We did however have USC thrashing Oregon State to give us a temporary Sad-6 with two – count ‘em – two bowl bids at stake. Behold:

1t. Cal 3-3 / 6-3
1t. OSU 3-3 / 5-4
3. ARIZ 3-4 / 4-6
4. Stan 2-5 / 3-6
5t. Wash 1-5 / 3-6
5t. WSU 1-5 / 3-6

Just a half game behind a team with three fewer losses than us. Oh so maddening…

Don’t worry, I’m not going to completely ignore the Lute thing. That was a wild morning of speculation and rumor-spreading wasn’t it? One minute you hear he just needs some time off, the next minute someone says he’s retiring to raise orphan baboons in Somalia. As long as we know it’s not his health we need to just leave him be and hope the team can avoid distraction until he returns.

As for football? Hopefully losing has taken a permanent leave of absence.


(After six column losses in ten weeks I’m taking a bye week too. Two weeks’ worth of Bear Down to everyone!)

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