Next Stretch Will Decide Arizona Wildcats' Bowl Hopes

Tom PhillipsCorrespondent IOctober 8, 2009

The next three games of Arizona's season will decide the postseason hopes for the Wildcats.

A lot of fans may look to the final four games as the most important.  At Cal, home vs. Oregon, at ASU, and at USC.  This is about a tough a stretch as any team in the Pac-10 can get.

The more important thing is to get to six wins and gain bowl eligibility before hitting this gruesome stretch of games.  This way, the Cats have a lot of the pressure of returning to bowl season off their shoulders, and can just worry about winning games.

These three games, outside of Washington State, are the most winnable games left on the schedule. If they have five or six wins coming out of this stretch of games, the Cats are in prime position to make a run at one of the top-tier bowl games in the Pac-10.

The month of October is usually the doom-and-gloom month for Mike Stoops.  Stoops has gone 6-15 in October, his worst month record-wise.  Every year, it seems that when Arizona has turned the corner, a less regarded team comes along and sucks the air out of Arizona's postseason hopes.

Stanford, the past two years, has been the main culprit.  Guess who is sandwiched in the middle of Arizona's three October games?


Washington (in Seattle)

This weekend, the Cats play an up-and-coming Washington team that has already defeated USC, and put up a fight against LSU and Notre Dame.  Their main problem seems to be one that Arizona fans are familiar with—playing up to better opponents, and down to lesser opponents.


Stanford (in Tucson)

Stanford has become a force to be reckoned with.  So far, they are undefeated in the Pac-10, and it seems that this is the year that they turn the corner under coach Jim Harbaugh.

Then there is running back Toby Gerhart, arguably the best running back in the conference, to consider.  Gerhart is on a tear and getting consideration for the Heisman.  The Cats will have their hands full with this much improved Cardinal team.


UCLA (in Tucson)

It seems that every team that Arizona plays in October is up-and-coming.  UCLA came out of the gates impressive this year, beating Tennessee in Knoxville.  They also have a tough stretch of games left this month, playing Oregon and Cal at home before coming to Tucson.

Expect a tough-fought game, especially with UCLA having quarterback Kevin Prince back from injury.  The good news for the Cats: Stoops is 3-2 against UCLA, with one of those wins being the 52-14 beatdown on Homecoming 2006.