College Football Bowl Projection: Arizona Wildcats
(Photo by Liam Foley)
The Wildcats have five games left in the 2009 season and are one win away from being bowl eligible and two wins from clinching a bowl game.
So who will the Cats beat in order to go bowling, let's look ahead.
Washington State: Win
Washington State is an easy win.
The Cougars have been dreadful for the better part of this decade and do not look like they have improved very much under new coach Paul Wulff.
Plus it is homecoming for the Cats, which is not good news for any team that comes into Tucson. Before losing to USC last year, Arizona had won three straight homecoming games, including two over top ten teams.
Now here comes the dreaded part of Arizona's schedule.
At Cal: Win
After getting up to number six in the rankings, they hit the proverbial wall and lost two straight to Oregon and USC. They have bounced back and are ranked 24th in the BCS this week.
Going up to Berkeley and getting a win is never an easy thing.
Arizona was able to win against the Pac-10's best running back Toby Gerhart but will face the conference's most explosive runner, Jahvid Best. Best has cooled down after a torrid start but with Arizona's small defensive line, he could have a big day.
Cal has put up at least 45 points in four games this season but has been held to three in their two losses. Their offense is very hit or miss, hopefully the Cats can make them miss.
Arizona is going to have to beat a better team in order to improve their record from last year and I don't know why but I have a hunch that it will be Cal.
Despite opening the season with an embarrassing loss at Boise State, the Ducks have turned around their season using the loss as a wake-up call.
Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was able to run and throw at will, if he is at full strength he is very dangerous. Oregon has just as many weapons as Arizona on offense, especially if LeGarrette Blount comes back from his suspension.
Arizona has always had problems with teams that run the spread option offense.
One can point to last season's game when Arizona let up 45 points in the first half to Oregon. The Cats showed heart in the loss though coming back and only losing by ten.
If Arizona can be the second half team of last year and not the first half, they have a chance to win. Otherwise, it will be a long night in Tucson.
At ASU: Win
The thing about rivalry games is that most of the time they are a toss-up. The Arizona-ASU rivalry is no exception.
Most years, I don't even like to make a prediction. This year is different. Arizona will win.
ASU's defense is very good and will test the Cats. Arizona will have trouble running the ball but should have no trouble passing the ball.
ASU on offense is another story. Quarterback Danny Sullivan is not the answer but Dennis Erickson doesn't have enough confidence in his team to replace him.
Their running game is absent most of the time. Their passing game is in even worse shape as Sullivan misses his receivers. When he does get it to them, his receivers seem to drop the ball more than catch it.
Arizona will go to Tempe and send the Sun Devils into the offseason not going bowling for a second straight year.
At USC: Loss
I would love to say that Arizona will upset USC and get to a better bowl game but with Arizona on the road, I think USC wins.
Arizona played USC close last year and if Willie Tuitama could have converted a 4th and 1, could have won the game. Arizona seems to play well at home when the crowd is energized and fed off that energy last year.
USC's running game is extremely good and Matt Barkley only seems to get better with every game.
If Arizona is able to contain USC's offense then they will have a chance of winning but the defense will have to play a flawless game for that to happen.
Bowl Game: Sun Bowl
Get ready to spend New Year's Eve in El Paso Cats fans, Arizona will go 3-2 in the final five games, making their record 8-4. This should be good enough for Arizona to finish third in the Pac-10 and go to the Sun Bowl.
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