Cover photo: The Oregon Duck, pleased with a sacrificial W (Daniel Cervantes, KAMP Student Radio)
Now as we move into November, another third of the Arizona Wildcats football schedule is complete. Unlike the first third that ended at an even .500, the Wildcats have endured a rougher bout in the schedule, going 1-3 in this middle span of the season. Here I’ll quickly recap the last four games and look onward to the final third of the Wildcats’ football season.
In week five of the season, on the 1st of October, the Wildcats played host to the 0-4 Colorado Buffaloes, a team that had been struggling to gain any traction on the year. Coming off of a tough loss in Berkeley, the Wildcats were ready to rebound, with Colorado being a perfect target. The first quarter would end at 13-7 Wildcats off of two TDs, with a missed extra point making the difference. In the second quarter, the Buffaloes would score a TD but miss their extra point while Arizona found paydirt twice more, failing to convert yet another extra point to end the half up 26-13. In the third, Colorado would score one more TD while the Wildcats picked up one of their own and a FG to make it 36-20 entering the final frame. The fourth was a silent quarter, with a five-yard pass from Jayden de Laura to Michael Wiley tacking on a final TD to make it 43-20 as the final score. de Laura passed for 484 yards and six touchdowns, dominating the game while Colorado’s Owen McCown struggled, mustering 186 yards in the air and a single TD.
The very next week it was Family Weekend at the University of Arizona, a weekend of chaos and partying. A second straight home game, the Wildcats played host to the then #12 Oregon Ducks, a squad coming off of dismantling Stanford at home 45-27 the week before. A sellout crowd of 50,800 came to attend the game, packing Arizona Stadium to the brim. The first quarter started relatively silent, with Oregon pushing out a 7-3 lead off of a 55-yard TD run by Noah Whittington. In the second quarter, the wheels began to fall off of the bus for Arizona as Oregon rattled off three TD drives in the frame, the Wildcats only mustered a single TD and a field goal to enter the break down 28-13. In the third, Oregon blasted in 21 unanswered points, with a Tyler Loop FG at the end of the quarter ending the frame with the Ducks up 49-16. It was at this point that the Oregon Duck and his antics on the sideline became the main entertainment as the final quarter was only populated with a garbage time TD pass from de Laura to Tetairoa McMillan to make the final score 49-22, a shelling the Oregon Duck was happy to take. The crowd, once full and boisterous, had gone home well beyond this point.
In week seven, the Wildcats had to leave the friendly confines of Arizona Stadium, heading north to Seattle to play the Washington Huskies, who entered the game 4-2 after losing a brutal upset to Arizona State that saw them tumble from the Top 25 rankings. 63,189 came to attend, the weather quite nice for a mid-October day in the Pacific Northwest. The first quarter ended at seven a piece, both sides trading TDs. In the second, the TD trading would continue, Washington entering the break up 21-14. In the third, both teams traded TDs to start but the Wildcats fell behind, only mustering a field goal on one drive while the defense failed to stop the Huskies, allowing Washington to get some distance and end the quarter up 42-24. In the fourth, the Wildcats attempted to mount a rally, putting up 15 points before the Huskies finally shut the door on a 19-yard Cameron Davis TD run, icing the game at a final score of 49-39. Jayden de Laura, in his return to Washington, put up great numbers, passing for 400 yards and four TDs, but he was ultimately outdueled by his replacement Michael Penix, Jr., who put up 516 yards and four scores. With that result, the Wildcats moved into their week eight bye on a two-game losing streak, sitting at 3-4.
Entering week nine, both the Wildcats and their foes, the USC Trojans, were coming off of their byes, both having lost in the prior game. For Arizona, the host of the match, what was likely the last game the Trojans will play at Arizona Stadium for the foreseeable future, it was Homecoming, making this match against the #10 team in the nation that much more important. Only 44,000 attended a match that would prove to be quite an entertaining affair. The first quarter ended at 10 a piece as both teams matched each other’s blows. The second quarter was very defensive, with USC mustering a single TD and the Wildcats responding with a field goal to make it 17-13 entering the half. In the third, the offense exploded, the score 31-29 USC entering the fourth quarter. In the fourth, USC iced the game on two straight TD drives, the Wildcats mustering a TD in the final two minutes to make it closer, ultimately falling 45-37. In a very winnable game, the Wildcats had failed to execute in key situations, missing golden opportunities to shift the momentum on their side and ultimately paying the price.
With these matches in the books, the Wildcats now sit at 3-5 on the year and 1-4 in conference play. While a potential bowl game remains possible for Arizona, only three wins away to be bowl eligible, the final third of the schedule will prove to be a murderer's row, especially for a team on a three-game losing skid. The next two games for Arizona are road games, first at #12 Utah this coming Saturday and then at UCLA, who is currently #10. After that, they end their season on a two-game homestand, first against Washington State and then against rival ASU. Getting three wins from this slate will prove to be a brutal effort. As it stands, Arizona is fourth to last in the Pac-12, sitting behind 4-4 Washington State, who is also 1-4 against Pac-12 foes. All I can say now is let’s hope for the best. Bear down and go cats.