[With apologies to Washington State fans (Only the Cougars can 'Coug it'!), I predict the wheels will fall off Arizona's wagon.
The Wildcats are hoping to have history on their side -- the history of Oregon losing their starting quarterback to injury. But the real history is that Arizona typically wilts under the heat of the Pac-10 race.
Sure they've pounced on ranked teams. They've scored upsets. But when the team they face has something to play for and is staring right back at them, we always see Stoopid's Wildcats do their historic faceplant.
Last week against Cal was a perfect example. In case you missed it, late in the game trying to regain the lead, their QB Nick Foles (or if you prefer his rapper name:
"2 Forward Foles") attempted a second forward pass on the same play.
The following video features a clip of the play. A defected pass comes back into his hands and he's running around looking downfield for a bonus throw. Look for the ref. I swear, he's already got his hand on his hankie thinking, "Don't do it, kid. Don't DO IT . . ."
After the game, Stoops is asked if they ever go over the two throw rule in practice (like maybe he writes it on a board, draws a circle around it, then a line through it). His answer is basically 'no'. Can you blame him? How much can you get accomplished if you're teaching things your players should have learned in POP WARNER?
But this is kind of typical of Stoops' teams year after year. They're tough. Disciplined. Prolific scorers. Brick-walled defense. . . . . right up until the time of the season when the games become critical. And no matter how much he yells at them, the mistakes start happening. The stupid penalties (By the way, these guys know they've taken out Oregon's QB's. And they say they want to "hit" Masoli. Watch for 'late hit' and 'roughing the passer' flags.).
Here's the video on ESPN's College Football Live. They talk to Foles. Then the analyst diagrams and praises Arizona's offense. But notice what -- and how quick -- his answer is when he's asked if AZ will get past Oregon:
Below is an excerpt from a good Sports Illustrated article (I recommend reading it.) by Cory McCartney, who calls this matchup the game of the week:
Can the Wildcats handle the pressure? The Stoops era has been a slow revival, tempting fans with upsets before confounding them with yearly collapses. But now, Stoops has Arizona three wins from its first Rose Bowl berth.
Still, concerns remain. Last weekend's 24-16 loss to Cal trimmed the margin for error and raised doubts over Arizona's legitimacy as a Top 25 team. Back in the rankings for the first time since the end of 2000, the Wildcats posted their lowest points and rushing totals of the season and budding star quarterback Nick Foles delivered his third straight sub-250 yard performance. And, reverting to their error-prone ways of old, they allowed three sacks after giving up just four through their first eight games. Things weren't much better on defense, as the conference's No. 2 unit wilted, yielding eight points in the final 4:46.
The loss cast doubts as to whether a group of players unaccustomed to being in the hunt this late can handle the pressure -- which increases tenfold with the Pac-10's top-ranked scoring offense and defense on deck. [That would be the Ducks.
Don't forget, ESPN College Gameday will be on site again at 7 a.m. (Check your local listing to be sure.) And the game will be televised on ABC. Will this help or hurt Arizona? That's a lot of eyes staring at them and hoping they don't choke.
I hope Oregon goes in with the attitude that THEY brought the national spotlight with them. And good luck to Arizona if they think they're going to shine under the lights too.
Finally, here is one more video of the 'Cats when they are faced with unfamiliar adverstity in uncharted lands. Consider this my prediction:
[Oh poor kitty.] --kb