Arizona Wildcats Set to Step Out of the Shadows

Tom PhillipsCorrespondent INovember 19, 2009

BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 14:  Nick Foles #8 of the Arizona Wildcats passes against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Arizona football has been the little guy for too long.

Fans have always played the "at least we have basketball" card or had to listen to everyone talk about going to the Rose Bowl and never actually going.

After this weekend, the Wildcats will make it known that they are no longer the little brother to other Pac-10 schools and the Arizona basketball program. They will step out of those shadows and create their own.

The loss to Cal was a wake-up call for this team. In the Washington State game they were able to get by on talent, so they didn't really try. At the beginning of the Cal game, they looked to take the same approach.

Arizona looked like they thought they could breeze through another easy victory. Even though their realization came too late, they still had a chance to win it.

Besides the Iowa loss, Arizona has had a chance to win in their two losses. If it weren't for two freak plays, they might have won, too.

This team has come to realize that they can't take anything for granted. They have to play hard all the time in order to win.

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They have also learned how to win close games—something past Arizona teams would let slip away.

In the Stanford game, down by 15, they came back with an impressive second half and pulled out a win. Against Oregon State, Arizona was able to hold off a late surge by the Beavers with defensive stops in order to get the win.

This is a different Wildcat team.

While Oregon and Stanford are getting all of the publicity from this past weekend, Arizona moved to the backburner.

The good news for Arizona fans is that the Cats thrive when they are the underdogs and are not given a chance to win.

Sure, College GameDay is in Tucson this Saturday, and 65 percent of the country will be watching the game (according to ABC's network coverage map). While some publicity is good, they are going to focus more on the negatives for the Cats, including losing to Cal last week and never having been to the Rose Bowl.

This is exactly what this team needs. They need to be the underdog, the odds need to be against them, and they want everyone to think they are going to lose.

The crowd is also a variable that not many people factor into this type of game. Arizona's student section, the Zona Zoo, is capable of holding 10,000 students. Expect about 12,000-14,000 rabid fans to cram into the east sideline to give the Cats the home field advantage they thrive on.

Mike Stoops has beaten a ranked opponent at home every year he has been in Tucson. More good news for the Cats: Arizona has yet to beat a ranked opponent at home this season. Oregon is ranked No.11.

Arizona will make a name for itself on the national stage. Just stay tuned Saturday night.


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