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In The Game

November 3, 2008


Bye, sweet bye.

I was chomping at the bit during our first bye week but there was a greater sense of calm this time around. For one, it was nice to extend the season another week. Itís hard to believe weíre already two-thirds of the way through our allotted games. Why the rush, college football season?

But the main reason for the relaxing week off is the fact that our team is in a pretty good position. Going into the first bye we were relieved to have gotten to three wins which kept the season from falling apart before it even began. During the second third of the schedule we swapped an upset loss for an upset win to post the expected 2-2.

If you look at the season like a single game weíre not blowing anyone out, but weíre still very much in this thing. The New Mexico game was like falling behind by ten points. The UCLA and Washington wins were like kicking two field goals. Stanford was giving up another touchdown, and Cal was answering with a pick-six. So here we are, down four. Play well from this point, and the game is there for the taking. Turn the ball over again and things could quickly fall apart. But weíre right there.

We can still win.

(Iím not ignoring the Lute thing. It just hasnít sunk in yet. To me it feels like last year has just carried over. We thought he was going to be here, then he left right before the season, then a newly-hired assistant was left in charge, and players were jumping ship. Iíll let you know when it hits me that The Era is over. Until then Iím going to keep watching football.)

Did you see the latest BCS standings? There are THREE non-BCS conference teams in the top 12. So if USC slips up at any point, the Pac-10 could be passed by the Mountain West (twice!) and the WAC in the standings. Very strange times west of the Mississip.

These are grave times as well. Thursday, November 6 is a day to remember. Be sure to take a moment and pause to think about the two month anniversary of Arizona State's last football win. Let us never forget. Never forget.

Man, Whoeverís Playing ASU sure tried hard to lose that last one, didnít they? You allow a guy who had completed a whopping nine passes to suddenly go 6-for-7 on the final drive. You let them convert a 2nd-and-24. You give up a touchdown with 21 seconds left to cut the lead to two. Then you thwart the two-point conversion attempt. It sure was nice seeing a loss like that happen to a team we donít like for a change.

By my calculations Mike Thomas is #8 on the UA career touchdowns list. Money Mike has 22 TD catches, two rushing touchdowns, and this yearís punt return. Not bad for a ď5-8Ē guy.

Hereís another number for you: Willie Tuitamaís quarterback efficiency rating is 140.79. He has three individual games this year where he posted a rating below that average. Those are the only three games weíve been held under 30 points. The three games? You guessed it, New Mexico, Stanford and USC. Itís pretty safe to say who the key guy is for us down the stretch.

And itís pretty safe to say if youíre wanting to get your quarterback back on track the one team you want to be playing is Washington State. The combined first quarter score in the Cougarsí five Pac-10 games is 73-0. We need to do that. No, not score 73 first-quarter points, smart guy. We need to come out focused and fast to start the game, which would be a first for this team on the road.

We need to be prepared for the worst. Rain. And snow. And a volcanic eruption mixed with rain and snow. This game is painfully important, and if you think thereís such a thing as a sure thing with Arizona Football you haven't been paying attention the last five (or ten, or 67) years, or even the last three weeks.

Play hard, play smart, win the game, get bowl eligible. Thatís all we can do this week, but thatís a ton.

Punch it in and letís take the lead down the stretch.

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