The Arizona Wildcats and Stanford Cardinal faced off in Tucson, AZ last night and it really wasn't a close game at all. The Cardinal won 37-10 and showed the Wildcats how a top ranked team plays. Andrew Luck was solid, once again, and the Cardinal kept the game interesting until the second half when Luck led three scoring drives to put the Cats away.
The first half was very competitive, with the inferior Wildcats playing solid and only down by six at the half. But it was a tale of two halves, as the Wildcats looked lost in the second half and the game was over rather quickly. Read on for five things football fans can take away from the Cardinal's victory over the Wildcats.
Arizona star quarterback Nick Foles got pushed around with frequency and the offensive line definitely got yelled at after this game. Foles was sacked five times, rushed countless other times and sometimes simply didn't have enough time to throw. Arizona is going to be a dismal team until this issue is resolved and they don't have any easy games for a while, with Oregon and USC next up.
Bad offensive line play leads to a bad rushing game, which the Wildcats have, and rushed quarterback decisions. The line lost several key starters from last season, but still—they can't continue to perform at the level they are now. If they don't get in gear, Arizona could go on a big slide soon.
Last season, Arizona's kicker Alex Zendejas was absolutely terrible and cost the Wildcats a couple games, including a home game against rival Arizona State. Every Wildcats fan, myself included, was excited when Zendejas lost his starting job this season, but we quickly found out our new kicker, Jaime Salazar, isn't much better than Zendejas. Salazar missed two key field goals against Stanford and it really destroyed any momentum the team gained by playing well in the first half.
Salazar is only 1-4 on field-goal attempts this season and has even missed an extra point. The Wildcats need to actively recruit the best kicker in the nation for next year or at least get a very good transfer player. So much of the game can come down to a final field goal or extra point and, right now, the Wildcats don't have the ability to win a game like that.
Stanford looks like they could go a long time without losing, and the first game that will be remotely challenging is on October 29 against the USC Trojans. Stanford has a dominating defense, an even more dynamic offense and the best player in the nation (Andrew Luck). They have all the tools to win a lot of games and I expect them to do just that.
Andrew Luck makes this a top-tier offense by himself, so it's not even fair when he gets a reliable running game and very good offensive line to work with. I can't think of any other college football team that can showcase such an over-powering and fundamental offense.
For all the talk about their amazing offense, they have an equally good defense. Through three games the defense is only allowing nine points per game and has dominated three inferior teams with ease. This unit could easily finish as a top-10 defense in college football this season.
Florida State lost to the Oklahoma Sooners last night 23-13, and leave the fifth spot in polls open for the Cardinal to take. Stanford certainly deserves to be ranked this high, and I can't see them going down below the fifth spot for the remainder of the season. They're only going up and have the schedule to do so.
With only three games on the schedule that should be challenging (at USC, and home to Oregon and Notre Dame), the Cardinal will cruise through the rest of the season. I wouldn't be surprised if they went undefeated or had only one loss when the season ends. That means a BCS bowl is almost guaranteed and maybe even a national championship bid.
Arizona is in a very difficult situation now, since they dropped their record to 1-2 with this loss. They play Oregon and USC in their next two games and, most likely, will lose both games. That would drop them to 1-4 with seven games left, and pretty much guarantee they won't go bowling this season. Of their seven remaining games, they play improved UCLA and Washington teams, the solid offense of Utah and the always competitive and heated rivalry game against ASU.
I can't see the Wildcats coming out of this season as a plus .500 team, and it seems like head coach Mike Stoops will be on the hot seat. If Stoops isn't fired, he will be on an incredibly short leash for next season. This leaves Wildcats fans to ask, "When's basketball season?"